In the Matter of a Request
    for Advisory Opinion





)     Advisory Opinion   #17



Town Clerk of the Town of Killingworth, Applicant

)     May 28, 1976








The Commission has agreed to furnish an advisory opinion to the Town Clerk of the Town of Killingworth concerning the obligations requiring the regional school board to give notice of the time and place of the public hearing on its budget.


It appears from the request that the regional school district in which Killingworth participates held such a hearing and that the regional school board failed to give notice to the town clerks of the member towns on grounds that such notice is not required by P.A. 75-342.


The giving of notice of meetings is explicitly required by §6 of P.A. 75-342, which requires literal compliance for the protection of the rights of access of the public.


In the case of the regional board of education, however, this requirement of notice is in addition to the statutory requirements of Chapter 164, Part III, General Statutes.


             "District meetings shall be warned and conducted in the same manner as are town meetings. For such purposes, the chairman of the board shall have the duties of the board of selectmen and the secretary shall have the duties of the town clerk." (§10-47, G.S.) Warnings of town and other meetings within the context of the above quoted provision are clearly described in §7-3 and §7-4, G.S.




            In view of the nature of the regional school district and its multi‑town composition, it is reasonable for this Commission to conclude that the legislature intended the warning commonly given within the town for a school district meeting under §7-3 would require the same type of warning to be given in every town in the district. Having in mind the reasonable interest in the regional body in cultivating the support of its multi‑town constituency, the Commission observes that the board would find it an advantage rather than a burden to invite the attendance of the electors of each town, regardless of the minimal warning required by law.


This inquiry refers to the statutory requirement that not less than two weeks prior to the annual meeting held pursuant to §10-47 the regional board of education must hold a public district meeting to present a proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Any person may recommend the inclusion or deletion of expenditures at such time. After the public hearing, the board must prepare an annual budget for the next fiscal year, make available on request copies thereof, and deliver a reasonable number to the town clerk of each of the towns in the district at least five days before the annual meeting. The board is required to present the budget at the annual meeting on the first Monday in May.   Persons present and eligible to vote under §7‑6 may accept or reject the proposed budget except as provided in the statute (§10-51, G.S.).


The Commission notes that regardless of the delinquency of the secretary of the regional school board in publishing the warning required by law, the above-quoted statutes furnish sufficient guidance to place the town clerk in each town member of the district on notice of the date of the annual meeting and the approximate date of the public budget hearing prior to the annual meeting.


It is incumbent on the town clerk and on the regional school board member for each town to learn the date and place of these two meetings and themselves to give whatever added warning is necessary for the interests of their fellow townsmen.


Without relying on the legislative mandate of P.A. 75-342, the Commission does not doubt that the duties of the town clerk and the member of the regional school board include this duty to inquire and to notify their constituents concerning such a public meeting. The Freedom of Information Act does not assume a failure to inquire and to act when the General Statutes provide that a meeting will occur within a definite period of time. Such a passive challenge to public officers to proceed at their peril in this context would be inconsistent with the premise on which P.A. 75-342 was adopted by the General Assembly.


It is the opinion of the Commission, that the requirements of notice in P.A. 75-342 apply to the meetings of a regional school board. It is the further opinion of the Commission that both P.A. 75-342 and the existing requirements of warning in other statutes must be read together in order to determine the lawful obliga­tions of the regional school board officers in the giving of notice.  The Commission concludes that the



warning required by statute must be given in each town that is a member of the regional school district.





                                                                                            By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                            Information Commission


                                                                                            Herbert Brucker, Chairman of
                                                                                            of the Freedom of Information

Date  ___________________



                                                                                                         Louis J. Tapogna, Clerk