State representatives introduce legislation to reform Win-Win

State Representative Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), and State Representative Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) announced on May 9 bipartisan legislation to allow “Win-Win” school districts to opt into permanent boundaries, providing parents and students in these areas with lasting stability.

The legislation is also supported by Ohio House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner.

“This kind of system does not exist anywhere else in the state,” said Duffey. “Students deserve a stable, permanent learning environment. Unfortunately, ‘Win-Win’ was never designed to be permanent because it requires six-year renewals. By passing this legislation, we will allow local school boards to vote to establish permanent school district boundaries, protecting students from annexation.”

“We have areas that have been served by the same suburban school districts for over 100 years,” said Bishoff. “Yet these families could be annexed to Columbus City Schools overnight due to their proximity to more lucrative commercial areas in the same suburban districts being annexed. Due to these commercial areas being annexed suburban schools are losing millions in my district and potentially across the nine Franklin County schools. Nobody knew, until recently, how unfair this system has been. We can put school districts on a level playing field with the choice to set permanent boundaries.”

According to a press release from Bishoff, the bill was developed in coordination with more than half a dozen local school districts and legislators seeking reform of Ohio’s outdated “Win-Win” framework. “Win-Win” provides protection for school boundaries in exchange for monetary payments to Columbus Public Schools. Neighborhoods in dispute were never in Columbus Schools, so permanent boundaries would keep students in their current schools without the need for six-year contracts. It would remove Columbus’ ability to threaten annexation.

“What was initially named for the fair negotiation process that ended Columbus and its respective suburb turf wars—’Win-Win’—has now become ironic,” Bishoff said. “When will our students have permanent boundaries? When will our districts be treated fairly? A 30 year solution needs modernization. It’s simply not fair to take our district’s land without our permission.”

Under state law, when a city annexes a township, the city’s school district may also annex that territory. It does not matter that the city’s annexation may have nothing to do with the school district boundary.

As a result, without additional protections in place, Columbus Schools may attempt to annex Groveport Madison, Dublin, Westerville, South-Western schools and other districts’ territory without their permission. Under the proposed legislation, school boards would have the option to pass a resolution to opt-into permanent boundaries, thus fixing the problem and removing any threat.

“It appears that ‘win-win’ has become outdated,” said Brenner. “We can and should take steps to move central Ohio more in line with the rest of the State of Ohio where this problem does not exist.”

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