Some people may believe that as a result of Win-Win, we have “more” students that we must educate. A common misperception is that Win-Win keeps some students in the Westerville City Schools instead of allowing them to “return” to Columbus City Schools. None of this is true now, nor has it ever been.
School district boundaries were in existence long before Win-Win came to be. The students that live in Win-Win areas were always Westerville City School District students. We were always responsible for their education; they did not “come to us” from Columbus City Schools. If WCSD were to opt out, it would be putting select parcels of the district’s most valuable property at risk.
As district officials reviewed the 2010 Win-Win renewal with legal counsel, they learned that significant portions of the district have high valuation and generate significant revenue, but they do not generate students. If the district was not part of Win-Win, these are the areas that likely would be targeted for annexation into the Columbus City Schools because it would result in more revenue for that district without a significant increase to their enrollment. Westerville City Schools would still have the students from Win-Win areas to educate, but would lose revenue.
Win-Win was first developed in 1986 and originally involved the Canal Winchester, Dublin, Gahanna-Jefferson, Groveport Madison, Hamilton, Hilliard, New Albany-Plain, Reynoldsburg, South-Western and Westerville school districts. Worthington has its own agreement with Columbus and is the model that Win-Win is based upon. The Win-Win agreement has been renewed in six-year increments (1992, 1998, 2004, 2010).
Only one school district, Reynoldsburg, has not renewed its participation in the Win-Win Agreement because, according to a 2004 newspaper article, district officials said so little of their district was in Columbus that it didn’t make sense to remain in the agreement.
Almost 25 percent of WCSD’s tax base is within the City of Columbus, which generates approximately $30 million in annual revenue for the district. Not participating in the Win-Win Agreement would put that property and the revenue it generates at risk, which remains the key factor that district officials considered when deciding to renew participation in the agreement through 2016.
On May 15, 1986, 13 Franklin County school districts (Canal Winchester, Dublin, Franklin County Board of Education, Gahanna-Jefferson, Groveport-Madison, Hamilton Local, Hilliard, Plain Local, Reynoldsburg, South-Western, Westerville and Worthington) announced the provisions of a negotiated agreement designed to address the issue of school district territory transfers.
Through 1955, the boundaries of the City of Columbus and the Columbus Public Schools were the same and covered 55 square miles. That year the law changed, and school territory transfers no longer automatically followed land annexation agreements: instead, school districts had to apply to the State Board of Education for transfers. During the ensuing years, Columbus grew to 187 square miles while the Columbus Schools covered 110 square miles.
In 1980, a moratorium on school district land transfers was imposed by the state legislature, and two additional bills extended it until November 30, 1986. This legislative compromise arose from concerns by suburban districts that Columbus was about to request the State Board of Education to transfer all or part of the city territory to the city school district. The legislature preferred that solutions be developed by the school districts themselves.
Irving Goldaber, a nationally acclaimed "win-win" negotiator assisted the 13 school superintendents in resolving the long-standing uncertainty about the educational, financial, and territorial future of the districts.
Results of the Initial 1986 Land Transfer Agreement (win-win)
- Student-centered, shared educational programs and services were cooperatively developed and provided through the establishment of the Franklin County Education Program and School Services Council.
- School boundaries remained as they were at the time of the agreement.
- Unincorporated land was automatically transferred to the Columbus school district, if and when it was ever annexed into the city of Columbus, with a few exceptions. (Non-contiguous areas thus became part of the Columbus school district for the first time.)
- Financial growth in the commercial and industrial property in the common area was shared, with each suburban district's payment limited to $200,000, subject to additional negotiations. The suburban districts' share was funded for the first three years by the State of Ohio.
The state legislature incorporated this agreement into Senate Bill 298, which passed and was signed by the Governor. At the time of the agreement, district representatives felt the agreement was advantageous to the districts because:
- The Columbus Schools had access to future county development in terms of both revenue and students.
- The Columbus Schools would have had to seek land transfers through the State Board of Education.
- The suburban schools retained their original boundaries
- Suburban district annexed properties were protected
- All students would benefit from shared educational programming
In short, the 1986 "Win-Win' agreement gave Columbus Schools a share of ongoing future revenue land transfers. In addition, it put an end to the adversarial relationship that had existed for several years between the suburban school districts and Columbus. It also established predictability for school district boundaries.
The Extended Joint Agreement of 1992, 1998
The Westerville Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the successor agreement to the 1986 Land Transfer Agreement in an effort to achieve continued educational, financial, and territorial stability and predictability, and cooperative interdistrict planning relative to facilities, services, and programs. This extended agreement clarified provisions for shared education programs and payment requirements to Columbus City Schools. The result was that: a) a graduated payment schedule was agreed upon, b) stipulations for terminating participation were amended, c) the automatic transfer of properties annexed to the City of Columbus to Columbus City Schools was maintained, and d) six year extension periods were established for the purposes of termination or amendment. The first period expired June 30, 1998 and the agreement was not renegotiated at that time.