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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Original Author: Ashburn, Melissa
Date of Material: 05/27/2005

Land use--Laws and regulations

Proposed Gift of Real Property from County School Board to City

Reviewed Date: 05/28/2021
MTAS was asked whether the City may receive a gift of real property from the County School Board.

March 24, 2005

Re: Proposed gift of real property from county school board to city

Dear Mayor

It is my understanding that the City may receive a gift of real property from the County School Board. I have been informed that the subject property is vacant and has not been developed and the school board wants to give the property to the City for public use. An attorney advising the school board, however, has informed the board that such a gift may not be made. I must disagree with the school board's attorney, as my research of the Tennessee Code reveals that the school board has the power to give property to another governmental entity located in the county.

Tennessee Code Annotated '49-2-203 governs the powers and duties of county school boards. The powers of county school boards include the power to:

Lease or sell buildings and property or the portions of buildings and property it determines are not being used or are not needed at present by the public school system to any governmental such manner as is deemed by the board to be in the best interest of the school system and the community which the system serves. T.C.A. '49-2- 203 (b)(10).

Based on this language, a school system may sell property to a city for a very small sum, if in the best interest of the community. It is my understanding that these transfers occur frequently for trivial amounts of money.

However, the property does not have to be sold even for a small amount, as the school board also has the power to Adispose of surplus property as provided in "49-6-2006 and 49-6-2007,"according to this same section of the law, T.C.A. '49-2-203 (b)(10). This portion of the law for disposal of surplus property by the school board states:

(d) The board of education may also transfer surplus real or personal school property to the county or to any municipality within the county for public use, without the requirement of competitive bidding or sale . T.C.A. '49-6-2006. (Emphasis added).

This language from the Tennessee Code is very clear in providing the County School Board with the authority to transfer the property to the City, without the necessity of a sale. The only requirement is that the property be determined to be surplus, and that it be used for public benefit.

Based on the clear language from the statutes quoted above, I do not know why the school board is being advised that the transfer would be illegal, unless such advise is based on facts that are not within my knowledge. If the property is not being used by the school system and can be classified as surplus, and if the City wants to acquire the property for a public use, the law permits this transfer to occur.

I hope this information is helpful. Thank you for consulting with MTAS.


Melissa Ashburn
Legal Consultant

Main Document(s):
file Proposed Gift of Real Property from County School Board to City public.doc