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Lawmakers Want To Eliminate "Win Win" Schools Agreement

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A pair of state lawmakers want to change an agreement that has shaped Central Ohio school districts for three decades. The so-called “Win Win” Agreement offered a solution to border wars between the City of Columbus School district and about a dozen suburban school districts. The new proposal may do away with that.

For those who are not familiar with the Win Win Agreement, at the heart of the matter are property taxes--which are essential for public school funding.

As the city of Columbus expanded in the 1980's, suburban school districts did not want to lose students and school property taxes to Columbus City Schools. So in 1986 nine suburban districts and the city cut a deal: homes and property on land annexed to Columbus would remain in suburban school districts.

In exchange, suburban districts agreed to pay annual fees to the Columbus schools; 1 percent of the tax growth, capped at $1.15 million, from new construction of commercial and industrial properties in Columbus areas that the suburban districts serve.

Leaders touted it as a “Win Win.” Students, residents and schools were able to more effectively plan for the future, and the border wars came to a an end. Well not really.  

Lyne May is the Dublin school board president and she says her district has had enough of the uncertainty. This agreement she says puts Dublin families and students on edge.

May claims that because the Win Win agreement is not in fact permanent and is reviewed and voted on every six years, that means every six years families and students could suddenly be redistricted to Columbus City Schools. May says her district wants established borders that can’t be changed.

“We need to gain some stability in this area for our families and students by making these boundaries permanent,” said May. 

And Dublin is not the only one calling for an end to what they see as a band-aid solution. State Representative Mike Duffey has helped to put together new legislation that would do away with the Win Win agreement.

“People don’t want to be yanked around and told they have to go to another place, uncertainty is not good for investment, it’s not good for stability and families," said Duffy. 

According to Duffey, in this proposed legislation the borders of these suburban districts would remain as they are. The Columbus School District could not annex any more land and Duffey says the suburban districts would no longer pay a fee. 

Also according to Duffey, if one of the suburban school districts currently involved in the agreement, does not want to leave it, this legislation gives them the option to stay. Some districts like the South-Western City school district say the agreement works well for them and they prefer it continue. The Columbus City Schools also wants Win Win to stay as is, says spokesperson Scott Varner

“I think it’s important to remember that the win win agreement was originally established to create a level playing field for school districts here in Central Ohio and it continues to do just that.”

According to Varner the agreement as it stands now still holds true to its name, suburban school districts get to operate within the city of Columbus, and in turn they share some of their resources with the city.