Westerville City School District Superintendent John Kellogg said the latest news on the district's Win-Win agreement is that Columbus City Schools has agreed to "renegotiate individually" with school districts -- if the districts agree to renew the agreement this year.

Westerville City School District Superintendent John Kellogg said the latest news on the district's Win-Win agreement is that Columbus City Schools has agreed to "renegotiate individually" with school districts -- if the districts agree to renew the agreement this year.

Kellogg said at the May 23 board meeting that Columbus City Schools had passed a resolution that morning declaring it remained "committed to the agreement even if another school district leaves."

"They are saying they are not going to dissolve the agreements and look for property transfers," Kellogg said. "I think this is good for us."

The 30-year-old agreement came up for renewal this year, as it has every six years since its establishment in 1986. The 10 school districts that are part of the agreement were given until the end of May to decide either to do nothing so the agreement continues or to vote to opt out.

The agreement originally stemmed from a political battle over which school districts had the legal right to teach children and collect taxes in fast-growing areas of Columbus -- Columbus schools or the existing suburban districts that were serving unincorporated areas of the county that Columbus was annexing.

Under the agreement, a property in the city of Columbus that was served by a suburban school district as of 1986 remains there as long as the pact is in place. In return, the Columbus school district gets 1 percent of the tax growth, capped at $1.15 million, from new construction of commercial and industrial properties in the Columbus areas that the suburban districts service.

Westerville Treasurer Bart Griffith said Westerville pays Columbus about $511,000 each year under the agreement, to protect nearly $30 million in yearly tax revenue.

He said other school districts such as Dublin pay more, $1 million to protect $60 million.

"This is a financial issue and I would not recommend you opt out of this agreement," he said. "You would be putting $30 million in tax revenue at risk."

Kellogg said the resolution Columbus passed declares the school board's intention to go from a 10-school district agreement to individual agreements with each school district.

"Their resolution says if we renew this year, we can get into conversations over the next year that have the opportunity to establish permanent boundaries and to phase out the payments," he said. "We would be obligated to make our payment for this coming year, but we could then look at where the protected areas are that would not be up for negotiation-and that could be all of the areas."

A number of school district residents, however, wrote letters to school board members over the past few months that asked for an end to the Win-Win agreement.

Westerville resident Jim Burgess said the district was "sending ransom money to Columbus" in his letter. "How many millions of dollars these past years would we have been able to spend on our students if we would have worked to end this years ago?"

Board President Richard Bird said he didn't like discussions about Win-Win that "rarely involve mention of kids" or accusations that board members have not thoroughly researched Win-Win.

"We have been deep in the weeds on this for months," Bird said. "In five months, I've heard about money and payments and boundaries and all these adult issues, but heard virtually nothing mentioned about kids.

"I'm a risk manager by profession and there is a lot of risk involved in not keeping this agreement," he said.

"It is not a risk I think our community is willing to shoulder."

He said Columbus' school district had made it clear that they have the power to annex areas into the city of Columbus if agreements are not kept.

"If we don't work things out together, they are coming," he said. "It is no longer theoretical.

"We need to act like grownups, be concerned about the kids, get into the next year and make agreements based on size and student populations and based upon keeping the boundaries we have today," Bird said.