|Board Approves Agreement for “Win-Win” Repayments to Westerville City Schools
|Posted Date: 8/31/2012
The Westerville City School District (WCSD) Board of Education on August 27, 2012 authorized its participation in a settlement agreement to correct billing and payment discrepancies for school systems that are party to the “Win-Win Agreement” with Columbus City Schools.
WCSD is one of six districts under the settlement agreement to receive payments from a Reconciliation Fund that will be managed by the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio (ESCCO). The district annually will receive $311,229 for the next three years, bringing its total refund to $933,687. Reconciliation Fund repayments to the other five school districts range from $112,117 to $542,938 annually over the next three years.
The settlement agreement was developed to correct billing errors made by Columbus City Schools (CCS) during the term of its “Win-Win Agreement” with central Ohio school districts whose attendance boundaries include portions of the City of Columbus. Three central Ohio districts participating in the settlement agreement owe money to the Reconciliation Fund and will make those payments over the next three years. In an effort to ensure the accuracy of future bills, the ESCCO will continue to calculate the bills for each district and administer the billing process once the reconciliation fund has been depleted. CCS will pay the ESCCO for its time in administering the billing process.
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.
In other action, Board members discussed the potential need for legal guidance due to a November ballot initiative that, if successful, would repeal a portion of the district’s 2009 operating levy. Board members noted that as a result of the repeal attempt, there may be instances where legal counsel is necessary and believe it to be in the district’s best interest to take the appropriate measures in response.
“This is not about campaigning, it’s solely about points of law,” said Board of Education President Kevin Hoffman. “This measure is only so they’re there if we need them.”
The Board subsequently passed a resolution by a 4-1 vote authorizing the law firm of Bricker & Eckler LLP to intervene and participate in any administrative or legal proceedings regarding the repeal effort, as well as to coordinate the legal response to this matter, on behalf of the district.
The Board in January authorized Bricker & Eckler LLP to be used as counsel for legal matters affecting the day-to-day operations of the school district. Despite this earlier resolution, the Board determined that an additional resolution should be passed in the interest of full transparency since any legal proceedings pertaining to the tax repeal may fall outside of that original authorization.
Board members also passed a resolution by a 4-1 vote to request assistance from the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Legal Assistance Fund for calendar year 2012. The OSBA Legal Assistance Fund is a trust fund established in 1977 to provide support to member boards of education while they are involved in litigation of statewide significance.