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BERRIE et al. v. STATE OF GEORGIA et al.
Bond validation. Camden Superior Court. Before Judge Flexer.
1. In view of the wide discretion given a county board regarding such matters, the selection of a school site by the board was not illegal or an abuse of discretion.
2, 4. Where the proposals combined in a single question on a bond election were plainly related, they were not subject to the objection that they were so independent and unrelated as to require their submission as separate propositions.
3. There being nothing in the record showing why a postponement should have been granted, there is no error by the trial judge in declining to postpone a decision in this case.
This is an appeal by the intervenors in a proceeding brought by the State of Georgia against the Camden County Board of Education to validate school bonds in the amount of $915,000. The intervenors' answer set out various objections to the validation of the bonds. Among these objections was that because there was pending litigation which could affect the validity of the bonds the validation proceedings should be postponed. The trial judge did not postpone the hearing. Pursuant to a stipulation entered into between the parties as to the evidence to be considered by the court the trial judge rendered a judgment which confirmed and validated the bonds. The intervenors, appellants here, filed their notice of appeal from this judgment.
The following pertinent facts relative to the history of this case are herein set out. The Camden County Board of Education had conducted studies regarding feasibility and site selection for a consolidated school. After the voters of Camden County had twice rejected proposed bond issues for two other sites, the board of education chose the site in question and initiated another bond election. Some of the present intervenors requested that the board of education reconsider its action calling for a school bond election for the issuance of $915,000 worth of school bonds to provide funds for "schoolhouses, lunchrooms, vocational and physical education buildings and facilities, purchasing sites therefor, and acquiring any other property, real or personal, and including the acquisition and construction of and equipment for a new consolidated high school to be located" upon a described tract of land located in the city of St. Marys, a site in the southeastern corner of the county. The request was to voice objections to the site selected and to introduce evidence that such a site would violate the provisions of Code Ann. 32-915 (Ga. L. 1946, pp. 206, 207), and that the bond election be deferred until a site was selected in conformity with the provisions of this Georgia statute. The board, on March 5, 1968, refused to provide for such hearing. However, pursuant to a mandamus proceeding the Camden Superior Court granted a mandamus nisi to require a hearing by the school board. The school board in compliance with this held a hearing and after the introduction of evidence declined to change its previous decision.
The enumerations of error contained the following grounds: (1) that the bond election and subsequent validation was illegal since it violated the express provisions of Code Ann. 32-915; (2) that the bond election by presenting to the voters as a single question several distinct and independent propositions failed to give voters a separate vote on each proposition and therefore was invalid; (3) that there was a legal proceeding pending in which a decision could be rendered that would affect the validity of the bond issue, which was a ground for postponing the hearing until the case was decided; (4) that the trial judge erred in refusing to allow the intervenors to introduce evidence as to the intended use of the bond proceeds.
We consider the enumerations in the order hereinbefore set out.
1. The school site as proposed by the board of education and set out in the referendum was to be located in the city of St. Marys which is in the southeastern corner of the county. The intervenors contend that the action of the board in locating the school at such site was arbitrary and in violation of the express provisions of Code Ann. 32-915 which provides: "The board of education of any county shall have the right, if, in their opinion, the welfare of the schools of the county and the best interests of the pupils require, to consolidate two or more schools into one school, to be located by said board at a place convenient to the pupils attending the same, the schoolhouse to be located as near the center of the district or districts as practicable." The Supreme Court has held that, in exercising powers given by this Code section, a school board has wide discretion and latitude for acting in the best interest and welfare of school children. Bramblett v. Callaway, 192 Ga. 8 (14 SE2d 454). See Keever v. Board of Educ. of Gwinnett County, 188 Ga. 299 (3 SE2d 886). The courts will not interfere with county boards of education in school matters except when they are violating the law or grossly abusing their discretion. Bedingfield v. Parkerson, 212 Ga. 654, 660 (94 SE2d 714).
Since the site in question was chosen after several hearings by the board and was approved by the majority of the voters in the county and, in view of the wide discretion given the board in such matters, we cannot hold as a matter of law that their acts were illegal or an abuse of discretion. See Davis v. Ware County Board of Educ., 117 Ga. App. 388 (160 SE2d 674).
2. The intervenors contend that the bond election as submitted to the voters combined in a single question to be voted upon several distinct and independent propositions which did not give the voters a separate vote on each proposition. We recognize the rule as succinctly stated in Rea v. City of LaFayette, 130 Ga. 771 (61 SE 707): "When several distinct and independent propositions for the issuing of bonds by a municipality are submitted to the qualified voters of a town or city, provision should be made in the submission for a separate vote upon each. They cannot be lawfully combined and submitted to the voters as a single question." However, in the Rea case, supra, the resolution as proposed was whether the city would issue bonds for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a system of waterworks, a system of electric lights, and for the purpose of improving and extending the public schools of the city. This would clearly require the voters to pass upon several independent and unrelated propositions.
The instant case is controlled by the decision of Miles v. State of Ga., 96 Ga. App. 610 (101 SE2d 173) where bonds were submitted "for the purpose of providing funds to build, construct and equip new educational facilities such as school buildings, libraries, auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, athletic fields and buildings, and structures useful in connection therewith, adding to, improving and equipping existing properties and facilities of the Bacon County School System and acquiring the necessary property therefor and paying expenses incident thereto." There the question was presented as to whether or not the advertisement expressed a singleness of purpose in accordance with the rule laid down in Rea v. City of LaFayette, 130 Ga. 771, supra, and the court held that the notice was not subject to the criticism that it indicated that the bonds were to be voted for the purpose of providing funds for two or more distinct purposes. The decision then set forth the test to be applied in situations of this kind: "If it can be said that the proposed improvements are not naturally related or connected, then it is clear that separate submissions are required; if on the other hand the several parts of the project are plainly so related that, united, they form in fact but one rounded whole, it is equally clear that they may be grouped together and submitted as one proposition." Miles v. State of Ga., 96 Ga. App. 610, 614, supra. Here the bond election question as proposed to the voters of Camden County showed that there were but several parts of a project plainly related and united so that they formed but one rounded whole.
3. The appellants contend that a decision in the instant case should have been postponed by the trial judge until an appeal from the decision of the State Board of Education had been finally decided. There is nothing in the record to show on what ground the issues before the state board were predicated or that it was between the same parties. In order for this contention to prevail, the record of such pending action must have been introduced. "In the trial of a case in the superior court the court can no more take judicial notice of the record in another case in the same court, without its formal introduction in evidence, than if it were a record in another court." Altman v. Florida-Georgia Tractor Co., 217 Ga. 292 (3) (122 SE2d 88). Since there was no showing made that a decision in the other case would be determinative of the issues in this case, the trial judge did not err in declining to postpone the proceeding.
4. The intervenors contend that the trial judge erred in not allowing them to introduce evidence as to the proposed allocation of the proceeds of the bond issue. Since the intervenors, appellants here, concede that this point is irrelevant unless a favorable decision was rendered in Division 2 of this opinion, this enumeration of error is without merit.
Judgment affirmed. Bell, P. J., and Hall, J., concur.
B. N. Nightingale, Nightingale, Liles & Dennard, for appellants.
Friday May 22 17:24 EDT

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