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WCS: What's in a Name?
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The Westerville City School district, the 9th largest in the state of Ohio, encompasses 52 square miles, eight taxing jurisdictions and includes land in the City of Westerville, Village of Minerva Park, City of Columbus, Franklin County, and Delaware County.  The boundaries of the district extend beyond the city limits of Westerville.  They have also been relatively stable since the 1800s.  Why then does the district bear the name Westerville City Schools?

 

The answer to this question lies within Chapter 3311 of the Ohio Revised Code: School Districts; County Planning.  Chapter 3311 outlines how the different types of school districts are styled and named.

 

3311.01 Styling of school districts.

The school districts of the state shall be styled city school districts, local school districts, exempted village school districts, and cooperative education school districts; and joint vocational school districts may be styled either joint vocational school districts or vocational school districts.

 

School districts receive their classification, and part of their name, based upon population size.  Westerville City Schools are classified as a city school district according to the definition outlined in:

 

3311.02 City School District Defined

The territory within the corporate limits of each city, excluding the territory detached therefrom for school purposes and including the territory attached thereto for school purposes, constitutes a city school district.  When a city is reduced to a village, the city school district shall thereupon become a local school district, except that when a city is reduced to a village but its city school district includes within its boundaries all or part of two or more municipal corporations, the aggregate population of which totals five thousand or more as determined by the preceding general census, it may, by a majority vote of the school board, remain a city school district.  An exempted village school district which includes within its boundaries all or part of two or more municipal corporations, the aggregate population of which totals five thousand or more as determined by the preceding federal census, may, with the approval of the state board of education, become a city school district.

 

The term City in Westerville City Schools, refers to the classification or style of school district.  It does not refer to the City of Westerville or any ownership of the district by the City of Westerville.

 

The term Westerville is in the name of the district for several reasons, historically most of the population resided within Westerville when the district received its name, Westerville is the central and largest municipality in the district and Westerville is completely contained within the district boundaries.  Not all City districts use the name of a city within their name and some use combinations of Cities or Townships or other descriptive words.  Some examples of these City School districts are: South-Western City Schools, Deer Park Community City Schools, and Vandalia-Butler City Schools.  The vast majority of City School Districts, however, use a single city name as a descriptor.  Smaller school districts are more likely to use other descriptive terminology such as: East Muskingum Local Schools, Olentangy Local, and Tri-Valley Local.

 

Could Westerville City Schools change its name?  Yes, it is possible.  The local board of education of the school district may change the name of the district by passing a resolution supporting the name change and filing the resolution to the Ohio Department of Education.  The State Board of Education is notified of the name change.  Due to its size, the district would still have to bear the name City School District, however, the descriptor Westerville could potentially be changed or modified.  As stated earlier though, the vast majority of City School districts bear a single city name as that best describes the district in the simplest of terms. 

Westerville Voters On Target for Education