By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools and Columbus City Schools entered into a land agreement that preserves and protects Groveport Madison’s district boundaries and establishes revenue sharing guidelines between the two school districts for the next 50 years and possibly for the next 100 years.
“This is one of the most historic things I’ve experienced during my time here at Groveport Madison,” said Groveport Madison Treasurer John Walsh. “This is monumental.”
The agreement is effective Oct. 23, 2018, and, after the 50 year term, it can be renewed for another 50 years. Groveport Madison officials stated the agreement will protect district residents and the district’s commercial tax base.
According to a press release from Groveport Madison Schools, the comprehensive territory transfer and revenue sharing agreement with Columbus City Schools “addresses many of the concerns the district has with the current ‘Win-Win’ agreement that is in place with Columbus Schools, Groveport Madison, and other Central Ohio school districts.”
The agreement addresses “any and all boundary transfers” between the two school districts and essentially secures Groveport Madison’s boundaries from transfer into Columbus City Schools upon a property’s annexation into the city of Columbus. The agreement states, “The defined boundaries are to be permanent and all properties within the current boundaries are protected territory.”
“This agreement provides predictability and stability to the district, not only protecting residential areas from being transferred into Columbus City Schools, it also protects extremely valuable commercial growth areas that are in the immediate proximity of the Rickenbacker Regional Airport,” said Groveport Madison Board of Education President Bryan Shoemaker.
According to Groveport Madison officials, the agreement identifies specific property parcels adjacent to the Rickenbacker Airport property in which Groveport Madison and Columbus City Schools will share tax revenue from existing and future development.
“Our legal counsel has been working very hard on behalf of the district to create an agreement that meets the current and future needs of both Columbus City Schools and Groveport Madison,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden. “This is a historical agreement for which our entire community should be extremely proud.”
The Groveport Madison Board of Education approved the agreement on Dec. 12. The Columbus City Schools Board of Education approved the agreement at its Nov. 20 meeting.
The bilateral agreement between the two districts is separate from the more than 30-year-old Win-Win agreement between Columbus City Schools and the surrounding suburban school districts. This new Groveport Madison and Columbus City Schools agreement could ease the Groveport Madison Board of Education’s potential decision on whether to opt out of Win-Win at its renewal in 2022.
Under Win-Win: the districts shared educational programs; district boundaries are set where they were at the time Win-Win began in 1986; unincorporated land annexed after 1986 went to Columbus City Schools; and suburban districts shared tax revenue with Columbus City Schools where Columbus receives 1 percent of tax growth with a limit of $1 million per year from new commercial development in areas served by the suburban schools.
Under the new Groveport Madison and Columbus City Schools agreement:
•No further automatic transfers of property from Groveport Madison to Columbus City Schools will occur.
•Current district boundaries are permanent and protected territory. (The lone exception to the territory transfer are six parcels near Rickenbacker Airport where transfer to Columbus has already been underway since 2016.)
•A cooperative educational program between the districts remains in place.
•A new bilateral revenue sharing agreement involving areas of potential growth around Rickenbacker Airport states that within 10 years, if these properties are developed and valued at over $250,000, Groveport Madison retains 85 percent of the property tax revenue and Columbus City Schools will receive 15 percent.
Due to a state moratorium on the transfer of property until October 2021, in other areas within the Groveport Madison district boundaries, Groveport Madison keeps 100 percent of any new commercial development within its borders.
If Groveport Madison decides to leave the Win-Win agreement in 2022, it will no longer share revenue with Columbus City Schools.
Walsh said the new agreement with Columbus City Schools will help Groveport Madison financially.
“With all the possible growth around Rickenbacker Airport, that area which is now protected within our borders can become a cash cow for Groveport Madison,” said Walsh.
Adam Miller, an attorney with Taft Law who represented Groveport Madison in its negotiations with Columbus City Schools, said the revenue sharing aspects of the agreement speaks to the future anticipated significant development revenue around Rickenbacker Airport.
“This is a good deal,” said Miller. “Groveport Madison is getting more out of this than other districts are with Columbus, such as what Grandview Schools gets with Grandview Yard. The Groveport Madison Board of Education, by negotiating directly with Columbus Schools, kept pressing for a fair agreement and they got it.”