History of the Win-Win Agreement

  • Prior to 1955

    Property annexed by a municipality was automatically transferred to that municipality's school district. Therefore city school districts and the cities they served shared common borders. When the city's borders changed the school district's borders were changed as well.


    In 1955 the Ohio General Assembly eliminated the requirement that cities and their corresponding city school districts have common borders. The decision-making authority regarding transfers of school district territories after 1955 was granted to the newly created State Board of Education. As a result of this change it became common for city school district boundaries to vary widely from the boundaries of the city they served.

    1950's -70's

    The City of Columbus implemented a policy of using water and sewer agreements to aggressively annex unincorporated land into the city. These policies resulted in tremendous population and economic growth that moved Columbus' boundaries into suburban school districts, thus annexing land into the city that had been in the suburban school district for generations. As the city grew into suburban districts the suburban districts continued to serve the families that lived in their district even though the property was now a part of the City of Columbus. However, because the property was now annexed into the City of Columbus, the Columbus City Schools could, under Ohio law, petition the State Board of Education to transfer the properties in question into the Columbus School District.


    The Ohio State Board of Education approved Columbus City Schools' request to annex valuable parcels that had previously been located in Grandview Heights into the Columbus City School District. In exchange, Columbus City Schools agreed to absorb the Mifflin School District. Residents of the suburban districts became concerned that they would be subject to a territory transfer out of the district in which they had always lived.  Suburban districts themselves became concerned not only about losing their students, but also about losing tax revenue from non-residential properties that might be transferred.  Many suburban school district officials suggested that Columbus Schools were targeting commercial properties with a valuable tax base, and voiced concerns about the fiscal stability of suburban districts facing continued property and tax base losses to Columbus City Schools. Strong opposition to Columbus Schools' continued growth arose from suburban school districts who wanted to protect their investment in facilities and who wanted to serve families whose goal was to send their children to the school in the community with which they historically identified.


    Columbus City Schools announced that it was considering a request for the transfer of territory of all annexed land into the school district.  The Ohio General Assembly then placed a two year moratorium on all territory transfer requests relating to annexation. Concerned legislators asked school officials to work out a solution to the growing "turf war" over the changing school district boundaries. In 1982, when little progress was made toward arriving at an agreeable solution, the General Assembly extended the moratorium for another two years, but stated they would not renew it again in 1986. Once again, the districts were directed to develop permanent boundary and annexation agreements.



    Community and education leaders convened a series of negotiations with the Franklin County school district officials. Led by a nationally-renowned conflict resolution consultant, these officials eventually reached an agreement that would finally put an end to the uncertainty regarding territory transfers relating to annexation. Columbus City Schools and eleven adjacent districts negotiated the “Joint Agreement Among and Between the Boards of Education of Certain School Districts in Franklin County, Ohio”, nicknamed “Win-Win” after the negotiating technique of give and take that led to the agreement's adoption. The agreement established mechanisms to predict school district boundaries among the member districts. It set procedures for Columbus to acquire new territory in the future, and established revenue sharing between Columbus City Schools and the suburban districts.

    1986 - Present

    Both Columbus City Schools and the suburban districts (including New Albany-Plain Local Schools) have gained by identifying mutual growth corridors, economic development, shared revenue, and the ability to successfully plan for the long term. Today, when unincorporated land is annexed into a municipality it is served by the school district of that municipality. The Win-Win Agreement was re-authorized by all twelve originating schools in 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010; with the exception of Reynoldsburg City Schools, which opted out of the agreement in 1998.