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Old 03-26-2015, 09:23 AM
3 posts, read 3,247 times
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We are beginning to plan our move to the Columbus area. I can't even begin to wrap my head around the strange set up of schools. We are coming from the suburbs of Cleveland. If you live in the city then you go to that city's school district here.
Does anyone have any advice on how to navigate the school borders/boundaries?
We are looking at New Albany/Westerville area and one house will be that city's school district but there are Columbus City Schools intertwined.
I don't get it!
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Old 03-26-2015, 02:30 PM
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I would consult a realtor because they will be able to help you navigate the housing and school districts in Columbus. Westerville and New Albany have good schools.
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Old 03-26-2015, 02:31 PM
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Welcome to Columbus!! I just moved here and it is a great city!
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Old 03-28-2015, 02:39 PM
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The school districts were set up in the 1800s long before many towns in Franklin County even existed, back when it was almost entirely a rural county with many farm children that needed a basic education. To provide the needed framework, the county was divided into school districts under the management of a centralized county school board. The way the law was written, when a district reached over 500 inhabitants, those inhabitants could choose to take over management of the school district themselves. One by one that happened in rural districts around the county in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

In the meantime, towns sprang up around the county in those rural school districts that had existed for decades. In some cases the rural school districts eventually changed their name to match the largest town or city that had sprung up in the middle of the district (Scioto-Darby Schools changed its name to Hilliard City Schools in the 1980s, thereby causing confusion ever since), and in some cases the districts wisely chose to keep their traditional rural district name (Southwestern Schools never changed its name to Grove City Schools, for example).

However, its important to understand that the school districts in Franklin County predate and have always been separate entities from the city governments that later grew up in those districts, and therefore the district boundaries are typically not the same and are generally far larger than the cities and towns that grew up in and around them. Cities expand, annex township land (very rapidly in some cases), and grow into and many times across the long-time pre-existing school district boundaries, but the school district boundaries almost always stay the same. This is mostly because the two have nothing to do with each other, but also to avoid uprooting and transferring kids from their traditional schools just because a city annexation took place.

It would cause less confusion if all of the districts had where applicable kept their original rural names, and not attempted to sound more "citified" over the years by adopting the name of the biggest town in the district. This leads people to think the school districts and cities that have the same name must have something to do with each other, but that is not the case. Elected school boards and appointed superintendents run the school districts, and city council and mayors/city managers run the cities.

If you have any question about which school district serves a particular address, call the local school district office and ask. If you give them the address, they will be able to tell you which district serves that location.

For that matter, since US post office service boundaries don't necessarily follow city corporate limit boundaries, just because a certain address has a XYZ city postal address does not mean that particular address is really within the corporate limits of XYZ city. This can be important for all kinds of city services such as trash collection, police and fire protection, plowing, parks and recs, etc. To avoid a possibly unpleasant surprise or confusion after you move in, call the city offices in question beforehand and they will be able to tell you which city (or township) provides refuse collection, police, fire, and other services to that location.
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:36 PM
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Be prepared to do your homework and get your realtor to do likewise. I'm originally from northeastern Ohio and was used to school district boundaries that lined up somewhat with municipal boundaries. Doesn't work that way in Central Ohio. Don't attempt to match municipality, ZIP code and school district, because there are instances where all three are different for your residence. There is a portion of Worthington City schools that is inside the City of Columbus and has a Westerville ZIP code, to boot. A good bit of the City of Columbus on the edges is actually served by suburban school districts. To further confuse matters, you will have some instances where neighborhoods inside one suburb are served by a school district centered in a different suburb. For instance, parts of the City of Dublin are served by Hilliard City Schools.

Oh... and in your situation, there are "islands" created by the Win-Win agreement back in the '80s, meaning you will have pockets of neighborhoods in the City of Columbus that are served by Columbus City Schools sitting right next to neighborhoods that are New Albany-Plain Schools or Westerville Schools. In fact, you could have a neighborhood that is served by two different school districts. Don't worry, you will get used to it. At first it was baffling to me coming from NE Ohio where school district boundaries seemed more logical and orderly, but after a while, you learn to decouple the city of residence from the school district of residence in your mind and it works out much better for you then. Also, if you are looking at an existing home, check the Franklin County auditor's website. It will have the school district listed in the entry for each property. http://www.franklincountyauditor.com. Hope this helps!

Last edited by bgfalcons86; 03-29-2015 at 03:45 PM..
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Old 04-13-2015, 06:47 AM
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Thank you all! It looks like something I will just have to get used to. We are looking at New Albany and Westerville. I prefer the smaller district like New Albany so far!
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Old 05-29-2015, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by jleeschaep122081 View Post
Thank you all! It looks like something I will just have to get used to. We are looking at New Albany and Westerville. I prefer the smaller district like New Albany so far!
New Albany is always a good bet. Westerville's nice BUT I hear the district is chopped up in ways similar to Columbus City Schools. (chopped up between Westerville North and South.) You might like Bexley in that it has a smallER school district and it's popular with transplants.

If you google "Columbus win win" and "dispatch.com" you'll see links to dozens of articles on the issue.
Here's a good run-down of Columbus's bizarre patchwork of school districts.

Local school districts' Win-Win debate may rekindle | The Columbus Dispatch

A lot of real estate agents don't exactly understand the win win issue. Make sure your broker understands the issue. And verify all promises of whatever on your own.
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