By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Board of Education delayed its vote on whether or not to remain in the 30-year-old Win-Win Agreement with Columbus City Schools because school officials are in negotiations in an attempt to modernize the contract.
“Due to recent developments in the Groveport Madison School District’s negotiations with Columbus City Schools, the Groveport Madison Board of Education will delay the decision to vote on participation in the Win-Win Agreement to provide time to review and study the contractual details,” said Groveport Madison Board of Education President Libby Gray at the board’s May 11 meeting. “The board will hold a meeting May 25 to vote on a resolution to participate or modernize the Win-Win Agreement with Columbus City Schools.”
The May 25 Groveport Madison Board of Education meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the district’s administration offices, 5940 Clyde Moore Drive, Groveport.
What is Win-Win?
Established in 1986, Win-Win is a legal agreement between Columbus City Schools and several suburban school districts that settled disputes regarding which school districts students would attend and which districts would collect tax revenues in unincorporated lands being annexed by the city of Columbus. Under the agreement, which was amended in 1992:
•Shared educational programs and services were cooperatively developed and provided through the establishment of the Franklin County Education Council (which is now defunct with what remained of its responsibilities folded into the Educational Service Center).
•School district boundaries remain as they were at the time of the agreement in 1986. Any areas that were within the city of Columbus limits, but were in a suburban school district prior to 1986 remain in that suburban school district.
•Unincorporated land is automatically transferred to the Columbus school district if and when it is ever annexed into the city of Columbus after 1986.
•Suburban districts agreed to share tax revenue with Columbus City Schools. Columbus receives 1 percent of tax growth (with a limit of around $1 million per year) from new commercial development in the areas served by the suburban schools.
•Districts can decide whether to renew or drop out of the agreement every six years.
Benefits to renewing Win-Win
According to Groveport Madison officials, the benefits of Win-Win to Groveport Madison are that the agreement protects the residential and commercial annexation of more than $128 million in property valuation in the district, particularly in the northeast and northwest corners of the district. It also minimizes legal challenges regarding educational equity and segregation across area school districts. The agreement also provides opportunities for programs like Mosaic, Kids Connect, and Metro for the district.
Risks of renewing Win-Win
Officials noted these impacts of Win-Win on Groveport Madison:
•It allows the automatic transfer of school district territory upon annexation by an adjacent city. Five of the district’s school buildings (Asbury, Dunloe, Madison, Sedalia elementaries, and Middle School North) and the majority of residential property owners in the Madison Township portion of the district are unprotected from annexation by the city of Columbus and would transfer to Columbus Schools if annexed.
•Annexations of Groveport Madison territory into Columbus over the last 30 years have resulted in a total loss of more than $107 million in property valuation to the district.
•In addition to the loss of tax revenue, Groveport Madison pays $854,000 annually to Columbus Schools to protect those areas in the city of Columbus from transfer that were within the Groveport Madison district prior to 1986. These include Abbey Trails, Berwick, Independence Village, Three Rivers, The Valley, and Winchester Crossing. These annual payments offer no annexation protection for the unincorporated areas of Madison Township.
•The district loses $37 million annually in taxable revenue from commercial, industrial and public utilities and this figure is increasing, which equates to at least $1.5 million in actual tax loss annually.
•The district has no ability to challenge land transfers before the State Board of Education under the Win-Win Agreement.
Benefits of withdrawal from Win-Win
According to Groveport Madison officials benefits of withdrawing from Win-Win are:
•Commercial property would no longer automatically transfer into Columbus City Schools.
•Groveport Madison would no longer have to make $854,000 annual payments to Columbus City Schools for protection of the protected areas of the district that were in the city of Columbus prior to 1986.
•There would be a clear process to challenge requests for land transfers to Columbus City Schools with the State Board of Education.
•Residential property taxpayers would not have to absorb additional financial burden to fund the schools as a result of transfers of commercial properties to Columbus City Schools.
Risks of withdrawing from Win-Win
The risks to Groveport Madison are:
•Columbus City Schools could request land transfer of properties located in the pre-1986 areas. But Groveport Madison could challenge these requests and also consider open enrollment.
•The city of Columbus could target additional Groveport Madison areas for annexation beyond just the Rickenbacker area.