Saturday, April 21, 2007

April Board News from STRS: Your HC premiums could increase 10% - 15% next year

From STRS, April 20, 2007
This week, the State Teachers Retirement Board held its monthly meeting. Following the regularly scheduled meetings, a report titled "Board News" is posted on the STRS Ohio Web site, as well as mailed to a number of members and education organization representatives who have requested it. As a member of STRS Ohio with an e-mail address on file, you will also receive this report each month. The April report follows.
PROPOSED BUDGETS FOR 2007-2008 PRESENTED TO RETIREMENT BOARD At its April 2007 meeting, the State Teachers Retirement Board had its first look at the proposed system budgets for the 2007-2008 fiscal year (July 1, 2007-June 30, 2008). Following discussion, staff made additional adjustments resulting in a proposed operating budget total of $97,265,200. This reflects a $7,707,200, or 8.6%, increase over the current year's budget. Three significant changes in the Investments division of STRS Ohio contribute about 7.1% of the total increase, while expenditures in all other areas of STRS Ohio contribute about 1.5% of the overall increase.
STRS Ohio is unique among the public pension plan community in the percentage of its investment assets that it manages in-house. Currently, STRS Ohio associates internally manage about 80% of the system's investment assets and use outside money managers to invest the remaining 20% of the system's holdings. Third-party studies have shown that this practice has consistently proven to be extremely cost-effective for STRS Ohio. Just as an example, internal management saved STRS Ohio more than $93 million in fees in calendar year 2005. For calendar year 2006, that number could reach $100 million.
To ensure that STRS Ohio can attract and retain investment professionals, it provides a cash compensation package to these investment associates that includes a base salary plus a Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) component. About 4.3% of the increase in next year's operating budget reflects changes the Retirement Board made to the PBI program in March 2006 that will be paid in August 2007. This change adds $3.85 million to this operating budget line item for the coming fiscal year.
The maximum incentive payments are only awarded when relative outperformance exceeds what the market would have returned. With an investment portfolio of $70 billion, staff must earn $350 million over the total fund benchmark return. This additional $350 million earned for the system results in a maximum total payout of about $8.5 million in PBIs. The most recent figures presented to the Ohio Retirement Study Council indicated STRS Ohio was the top performing Ohio pension fund over the past three years on both an absolute and relative return basis. Through March 31, 2007, the STRS Ohio fund return is about 14.7% compared to the total fund benchmark return of 13.9% this fiscal year.
During this month's meeting, the Retirement Board also voted to make an adjustment to the base salaries of eligible Investments associates to bring their total compensation (base salary plus PBI) to the 25th percentile of private market levels. Currently, total cash compensation is at the 20th percentile of private market levels. Both the prior change in the PBI program and this change in base salary structure are in alignment with recommendations contained in the comprehensive compensation and benefits review of STRS Ohio completed in December 2005 by the firm AON/McLagan. This salary adjustment adds about $800,000 to next year's proposed operating budget.
The third factor is the completion of placing expenditures for investment research services in the operating budget. Previously, a portion of commission dollars generated on securities transactions was used to pay for some investment research services. For the past several years, STRS Ohio has been transitioning these services to the system's operating budget. With the completion of that conversion during this fiscal year, the budget for next year reflects additional expenditures of $455,000. This follows "best practices" in the investment industry, is more economical for STRS Ohio and adds transparency to the cost of investment services.
Also included in the operating budget is a merit and promotional increase for eligible associates of 4%. These are awarded based on each individual associate's performance. STRS Ohio associates do not receive step increases nor cost-of-living increases. Significant monetary decreases are reflected in such areas as: non-management associates' service awards; printing; telephone; supplies and materials; and Retirement Board expenses. Expenditures for utilities remained flat and the on-site child care center will be cost-neutral next fiscal year. The operating budget also reflects the addition of nine new associates (six in Investments, two in Member Benefits and one in Internal Audit), which will bring the total authorized staff size to 637 full- and part-time associates from 628.
The proposed capital budget for next year totals $2,100,900. Additionally, the system will be spending $6,387,700 on the Vitech project that is currently under way to replace STRS Ohio's obsolete pension management computer system.
In developing the budgets, staff was guided by these board directives:
- Make system operations in all areas as "lean" as possible, without jeopardizing delivery of pension benefits and services and health care coverage to members; adversely impacting investment operations; or failing to meet fiduciary responsibilities or legal requirements.
- Provide an appropriate compensation and benefits package and work environment to attract, retain and engage highly motivated associates.
- Comply with all Board Policies.
- Address Retirement Board priorities.
- Demonstrate and communicate to members that STRS Ohio is managing operating expenses prudently.
The Retirement Board will be asked to approve the budgets at its June meeting.
RETIREMENT BOARD BEGINS DISCUSSING HEALTH CARE PROGRAM FOR 2008 At the April meeting, STRS Ohio staff began discussing the premium outlook for calendar year 2008 for the STRS Ohio Health Care Program. Early estimates show that health care premiums could increase between 10% and 15%, based on three months of claims data recorded for January-March 2007, because of increased utilization and cost increases for health care services.
During its presentation to the Retirement Board, staff noted that there is limited ability to mitigate rising premiums through incremental cost-saving measures or health care plan design changes, such as changing an annual deductible amount. Only a substantial change in the program structure can impact monthly premium amounts in any significant way. Further, in keeping with the program's Strategic Plan, it is important to maintain a premium structure and plan design that keeps the annual required contribution at or below 5%. This annual required contribution amount, which puts the Health Care Stabilization Fund on a 30-year funding period, is the basis of the Retirement Board's legislative initiative that it developed in conjunction with the Health Care Advocates for STRS. That proposal calls for increasing member and employer contributions by a total of 5%, phased in over a five-year period, to create a dedicated revenue stream for the health care program. In 2008, STRS Ohio will continue to participate in the Medicare Part D Program, but there may be some operational changes required for the prescription drug program covering Aetna, Medical Mutual and Paramount plan enrollees depending on the vendor selected in the current project being undertaken with the other Ohio systems to jointly select a prescription drug manager. Finally, as staff looks at options for 2008, it will preserve the current member premium contribution strategy. (The premium contribution strategy, which was adopted by the board in 2004, provides a 2.5% premium subsidy to benefit recipients for each year of service between 15 and 30 years. Benefit recipients with less than 15 years of service, spouses and dependents receive no premium subsidy.)
Any proposed changes to the STRS Ohio Health Care Program will be presented to the board for its consideration in May and June. At that time, additional claims data will be available. The board will then be asked to approve premiums for 2008 at its August meeting.
RETIREMENT, INVESTMENT TRANSACTIONS APPROVED The Retirement Board approved the following retirements and investment transactions:
- 184 active members were approved for service retirement; 139 inactive retirements were approved.
- In March, fixed-income purchases totaled $432 million, domestic equity purchases totaled $2.3 billion, and real estate purchases totaled $85.9 million.
HOUSE BILLS AFFECTING STRS OHIO ARE INTRODUCED House Bill 151 that requires divestiture by the retirement systems of any foreign companies doing business in Iran received its first hearing on April 19 in the House Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities Committee. The Treasurer, the State Board of Administration, Bureau of Workers' Compensation and the five retirement systems are covered by the bill. The bill requires the Treasurer to certify independent research providers. One of these providers would then be hired by STRS Ohio to review the portfolio for companies doing business in Iran. The research firm would determine which publicly traded foreign companies are doing business with or in Iran. In addition, any non-publicly traded foreign firms and any outside asset managers, who run funds, would have to certify annually that none of their operations are in Iran. Any holding in foreign companies doing business with Iran (except for humanitarian and journalism organizations) would have to be divested within one year. While several items need to be clarified in the legislation, preliminary data indicates it seriously affects STRS Ohio's International investment program. Approximately $4.6 billion of the $18.7 billion in International holdings would potentially be illegal. Prohibited foreign companies likely would include Siemens AG NPV with 2,242 employees in Ohio, Daimler Chrysler AG EUR with 9,350 Ohio employees, BP with 750 Ohio employees (not including stations), and Honda with 17,350 Ohio employees. The bill does not cover subsidiaries of U.S. companies that may be doing business in Iran. Further, only contributions by public employees to the public funds are being required to divest. Contributions going into alternative retirement plans offered by private vendors are not required to divest.
On April 17, House Bill 152 was introduced by Rep. Chris Widener, who is chair of the Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities Committee. This bill would require school boards to offer private vendor alternative retirement plans (ARPs) to teachers and school employees. To put this in context, approximately 25% of STRS Ohio active members currently have less than five years of credit and represent about 14% of the total payroll to the system. This bill is identical to House Bill 700, which was introduced during the lame-duck session of the General Assembly in December 2006. There was no action on that bill. Staff anticipates this bill will be put on a fast track.

Molly Janczyk and Deloris Ullman re: Medicare/STRS/Insurance Provider

Molly Janczyk to Deloris Ullman, April 20, 2007
Subject: From ORTA: Medicare/STRS/Insurance Provider
Dear Deloris,
Thank you so much for posting Medicare info. I did not expect my name to be attached and that was most considerate.
The only thing that may need a bit of clarification is the Part B section. Most retirees qualify for Part A through themselves of through their spouses who qualify.
7600 retirees do not qualify for Part A in this manner so STRS then provides comprehensive hospital coverage which is the equivalent of Medicare Part A. Medicare Part A is overnight stays in hospital and facilities. Part B is for Dr., procedures, out patient treatments.
Visit for specific info on costs and coverages.
I will forward to membership for their viewing on your website. Thank you very much.
Sincerely, Molly J.
From Deloris Ullman, April 20, 2007
Subject: Re: Gary: Request: Medicare/STRS/Insurance Provider

Dear Molly,
Tonight I took it upon myself to write up your information about health insurance and post it on the ORTA website: Please read it and let me know if anything is missing. I tried to list it in as few words as possible yet get to the point. I am open for suggestions. Since after being a district director for ORTA, I realize the kinds of questions that come up, I tried to write things that I can explain. I think you did a good job and don't believe that I left out any of your points. Thanks for your help and suggestions. I hope it will help the people who take time to read it from having claim problems in the future.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Jim N. Reed’s speech to STRS Board, April 19, 2007

Cynicism: Enron on the Scioto

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Jim N. Reed and I am a 42 year teacher in the Liberty Union-Thurston Schools in Baltimore in Fairfield County. I appear before you today to express some concerns and ask you to continue the current momentum toward a more transparent boardroom.

It is quite obvious that more and more Ohioans today are tuned in to and approving of the notion that organizations, agencies, corporations and indeed all public entities need to be cognizant of and respondent to their constituents’ rights to know how business is conducted. It is imperative to understand that “business as usual” is no longer acceptable. Transparency, accountability and oversight are here to stay. The charge of “micromanagement” will no longer serve as a hiding place for negligence and ineptitude. There is less and less tolerance for public officials whose arrogance produces actions and words that are more condescending than compassionate; more patronizing than dutiful; more self-serving than serving.

More specifically, it will never be as simple for organizations purporting to represent educators to be given carte blanche authority to make life-altering decisions for their constituency. Attempts at restoration of the outlived, unquestioned faith and trust will be closely scrutinized by a membership less likely to be duped. The erosion of that confidence cannot be reconstructed overnight.

Retirees need to see good faith behavior from their fiduciary caretakers. This includes acknowledging the history of the serious mismanagement of beneficiary funds by their predecessors and admission that all semblance of the entitlement philosophy is unacceptable and must be eliminated by current and future board members and administrators.

Until ORC 3307.15 becomes the only benchmark for board decision making, cynicism will continue to be the prevailing attitude among many retirees. Expectations of unethical behavior will be the norm.

Recently I had a conversation with a retired administrator regarding the disappointing and disgusting ethics violations by as many as seven indicted board members and administrators at STRS since 2003. His reasoning for their unethical and illegal behavior is indicative of society’s current expectation of corporate greed, indifference and corruption. He claimed he could hardly find fault with the lack of ethical conduct at STRS, since that had become the trademark of Enron, WorldCom and others.

It made me angry to hear an educator so easily lump his profession’s retirement system in with the likes of the most blatantly corrupt in corporate America.

How did a once proud, respected and honored STRS become mired in that kind of company? It is shameful and a professional embarrassment.

I would suggest that this attitude of “acceptance of the worst” among your constituency is too prevalent for the health of our retirement system. I would hope that this Board and administration would be offended by this comparative analysis and not want it to be a part of their legacy.

Lastly, I would caution the Board and administration to not take too seriously the satisfaction rates suggested by the STRS-sponsored surveys conducted among retired Ohio educators. These could be deceiving and lead to a false perception of what is really going on in the lives of far too many retirees. There should be no doubt that retirement has become a dilemma for many.

As a Concerned Ohio Retired Educator, I implore you to continue to closely examine the policies and procedures of STRS and have the courage to identify those that are in need of alteration or abandonment for the betterment of the lives for whom the system exists.

Thank you.

Check out this bill

Molly Janczyk: STRS:Exec.Direc.Report from STRS: HB 152, 151, 71; AOL settlement,speeches

From Molly Janczyk, April 19, 2007
Subject: STRS:Exec.Direc.Report from STRS: HB 152, 151, 71; AOL settlement,speeches
STRS Exec Direc Report:
It includes the introduction of HB 152 introduced by Rep. Chris Widener, chair of the Financial Institu., Real Es. and Securities Comm.:
Rep. Widener:
Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High St
Columbus, OH 43215
This bill would require school boards to offer private vendor alternative retirement plans to teachers and school employees and is identical to HB700 introduced during the lame duck session. This would have a negative impact on STRS reducing contributions and be harmful to young educators fooled into thinking they could save enough for their HC in retirement which is not possible on an educator's salary and totals on average $240,000.
HB71 became effective March 29, 2007 allowing for the purchase of active duty service with the Ohio Nat'l Guard and reserve components of the U.S. armed forces.
HB151 that requires divestiture by retirement systems of any foreign companies doing business in Iran is tentatively scheduled for its first hearing on 4/19/07. We have no known investments with Iran.
Other items will be included.
AOL: STRS's claimed loss was $184,704,438 and recovery was $66.5 million - only 36% of the combined loss experienced by our pension and HC funds. Proper accounting is to proportionately divide the recovery between the pension and HC fund based on respective losses. An allocation to the HCSF cannot be greater than the total losses incurred by that fund. All STRS members incurred losses and should rightfully share in recovery.
While STRS has some discretion regarding these funds, due to liability at 47.2 yrs, and a funding ratio well below of at least 85%, staff recommends no add'tl action be taken and that this partial recovery not be viewed as a windfall but must be allocated proportionately among the pension and HC funds that experienced loss.

Molly Janczyk: 4/19/07: CORE/STRS Board Meeting: HC, Indiv. HC costs, Funding, Travel, Speakers

From Molly Janczyk, April 19, 2007
This is long and contains a lot of information, dialogue and both CORE and STRS Meetings. If you have questions or concerns, please direct them to the approp. person to clarify before commenting as this is my take on today's meetings and issues should be addressed in entirety before judgments made.

CORE: Disclaimer: I was asked to take CORE notes today as Glenna, the CORE Sec. was unable to attend. Since I am not an officer, I assume, I simply send them vs. obtaining CORE Board approval. Many were absent as well due to family illness, personal Dr. app'ts., out of town, etc.
Present were: Dave Parshall, Pres., Molly J. stood in for ME Angeletti, Kathie Bracy stood in for Chuck Angeletti, CJ Myers, Treas., CORE Trustees: Nancy Boomhower, Betty Bell.
Ryan Holderman usually stands in for Nancy Hamant but is facing his mother's very serious illness. We send our prayers and thoughts to Ryan during this most difficult time.
*It was moved to approve Glenna's minutes from last month but to skip the reading of the minutes.
*CJ Myers reported on the amount of CORE funds and read a note from a Richard _______? who sent a $200 ck to help CORE support the efforts of Leone and Lazares.
*Committee Reports: Dave Parshall has rec'd requests to make the CORE website more user friendly with links to other sites to contact legislators, ORSC, STRS, etc. The website is going to be updated with Leone's recent report and other current info.
*Molly J. reported that we now have email contacts in most every county and are still working to obtain the remaining counties to provide an additional voice on issues, assist retirees who feel they are not being heard and develop a network for common goals, elections, and avenue for concerns.
*CORE Constitution changes were approved and The CORE Constitution will be on the CORE website.
*Spring Rally: Legislative Day: See for details. Dave P. and Nancy Boomhower plan to attend to meet and speak with legislators.
*Medicare Part A: Dave Parshall is concerned about the nearly 8000 STRS retirees who will be without a comparable comprehensive hospital coverage should STRS HC become insolvent. STRS now provides this coverage to all who do not qualify through Soc. Sec. themselves or through a spouse. While Medicare predicts insolvency before STRS HC, he and Gary Russell of STRS HC feel something most likely will be done for the Soc. Sec. recipients by the government should Medicare fail but the STRS retirees who do not qualify for Part A will have no coverage.
((Hopefully, if HCA legislation passes, some resolution can be found. STRS HC is predicted to begin using principal of the HC fund between 2009-2011 IF HCA legislation does not pass. ))
*CORE Newsletter: some members were angry that Leone's report was not published by ORTA and spoke to CORE having a newsletter. We exist solely on member donations for elections, mailings, copies, etc. We cannot afford to produce a newsletter for retirees. We have email trees, Kathie Bracy's blog:, our website for 'publications.' We are now into most every county by email and hope our contacts will share these items with membership.
*CORE Talking Points: membership has asked for points for conversation and discussion with public, RTA's, organizations of CORE's goals, etc.
These points were approved for use:
1. STRS Board Members must follow the ORC: 3307.15 to discharge their duties solely on behalf of membership and exclusively for the purpose of providing benefits to participants.
2. STRS HC Fund needs a steady stream of revenue and CORE supports the HCA's in sponsoring a legislative solution for this crisis.
3. The unfunded liability is 47.2 yrs. The ORSC (Ohio Retired Study Council) who oversees the pension systems demands 30 yrs. STRS projects it to be at 30 yrs by 2009 based on no net actuarial losses. CONCERN: We have lost 2500 contributing teachers in Ohio. If this conntinues, we will not meet this goal in 2009 unless something else fills in the gap for contributing educators.
4. New persons elected or appointed to the STRS Board must be free to make independent decisions apart from any political affiliation.
5. Senate 190 created tiers of retirees: Those who retired before or after this bill. The calculation rate rose from 2.1% to 2.2% per yr retro to '99. CORE works for the weakest among us.
6. Public Speak: CORE members regularly speak during the Public Speak portion of the Board Meeting. This portion of the meeting needs protected. CORE is working to preserve this first amendment right. Any CORE member is encouraged to address the Board.
*CORE meets bi - monthly with Damon Asbury, Exec Direc of STRS, regarding concerns of retirees. Send these concerns to : Dave Parshall for consideration:
*Will STRS Day Care EVER be cost neutral? We are told we will be neutral 'soon'. Where does that stand with util, building costs that members still pay? Is this included in tuition as well or do members pay for those items?
*STRS employees are still paid annually for unused sick and vacation time and given Service Awards of $125-$1000 for simply working at STRS. Yet pensioners are being hit hard and 13th checks were eliminated.
*Support for Lazares and Leone is vital to keep focus on YOUR pension fund.
*All are encouraged to attend CORE meetings during lunchtime in the STRS Sublett Rm., 2nd flr. adjacent to rear of the cafeteria.
*Dave Parshall was asked as Pres. of CORE and agreed to speak of behalf of CORE to recognized Dennis Leone for his recent Education Leaders's award.
*Dave Parshall as CORE Pres. has written a letter Marc Dann regarding what is thought to be sunshine law violations which was presented to the Trustees for consideration and was approved. This addresses STRS meeting behind closed doors on items such as Damon Asbury's contract extension, etc. which seem to be public information.
*Jim McGreevy brought us more petitions for :
"RIGHT FOR OHIO, Education Amendment" and we turned in returned ones to him. This amendment will guarantee accountability with reports, identify cost of quality education and require the state to pay more, reduce number of new local property levies, cut property taxes for senior and disabled homeowners, protect state funding for school facilities, local safety and services and colleges and universities.
for more info and for petition info.
*Next CORE /STRS Board meeting is Thurs. 5/17/07 as best as can be determined.
STRS Board Meeting:
HC: Premiums could increase 10-15% 2008 based on 3 months claims costs of
2007. This could be reduced slightly if plan design changes are made and enrollees share more of the costs to keep costs down and attract healthier participants to STRS HC.
Staff will present a framework for developing options for the May Board meeting. Staff requests plan design approval in June and approval of the 2008 HC plan in August at the Board Meetings.
1. Manage the STRS HC Program mindful of the 2007 Guiding Principles: "Maintain or improve the solvency of the HCSF (Health Care Stabilization Fund) in working toward a 30 yr funding period.
2. Consider only those plan design enhancements that maintain the annual required contribution (ARC) at or below 5% for STRS HC in compliance with the HC Strategic Plan. This applies to medical and RX benefits and Part B based on Strategic Plan objective" "Make necessary changes to STRS HC, including an aggressive cost management program, in working toward 30 yr funding period.
3. Continue the 2004 member premium contribution strategy in 2008 which provides 2.5% premium subsidy to benefit recipients for each year of service between 15 and 30 yrs. This was a key assumption in developing the legislative initiative's target to maintain the actuarial determined annual contribution rate (ARC) w/in the 5% requested to create a dedicated stream of revenue for HC. Educators with less than 15 yrs and all spouses receive no premium subsidy and have access to HC at 100% of the premium cost.
4. Facilitate understanding of the legislative initiative by sustaining current plan design while the initiative is under way.
5. Continue the current benefit structure until the program costs require using principal from the STRS HCSF , now projected to be between 2009 and
2011 IF legislation initiative is not successful.
Staff seeks long term solvency by taking actions that maintain or reduce the ARC below 5%. If premium costs become significantly larger before 2011, there is limited ability to mitigate rising premiums through incremental cost saving measures or plan design changes. For Ex., if a recipient 's Plus Plan deductible was raised from $500 to $1000, the monthly premium would only change by about $5 monthly. A substantial reduction of benefits would have to occur before the monthly premium would be impacted significantly. Reason: STRS pays out over $1.5 MILLION PER DAY as a self insured system for HC claims for individuals enrolled in the program.
Proposed changes would improve the cost-effective utilization of the HC program benefits.
((STRS is in a maintain mode for benefits at this point)).
Guiding Principles include: Allocating HC resources for voluntary program realistically allocating costs between active and retired members and employers; provide cost effective HC focused on quality outcome and services meeting pension requirements, member satisfaction and confidence; recognize longevity of Ohio service credit; provide support for member's active participation in their own HC using health resources efficiently; contract with high value , cost effective vendors; apply sound business principles managing HC with continuous operational improvement; non private data to evaluate program soliciting member input; maintain or improve solvency of HCSF with working toward 30 yr funding period.
Charts were given on where HC money goes for all 5 pension systems with medical claims, admin. fees, RX admin. fees, RX claims, disease management fees, premium payments, Part B reimbursement (except SERS which is allocated in pension funding).
OPERS HC Preservation Plan includes 3 tiers for HC: enhanced, standard and basic. They divided their recipients into 3 grps; prior to 2007, service credit prior to 2003, no service credit prior to 2003. Graded monthly allowance
(GMA) dependent on years of service and the Group the person falls into for dental, HC, vision with balance into a HCSA (HC Savings Account) Estab. targeted solvency range of 15-25 yr and dropped that to 18 yrs in
2005. Enrollee deduc., co pay, coinsurance adjusted to maintain enrollee cost share between 10-20%.
STRS is in best position for long term solvency with its HC legis. initiative if it passes. I was told today that most individual legislators know a problem exists and something needs to happen with many of the new legislators seeing this need.
The ORSC (Ohio Retirement Study Council) which oversees the pension systems will be presented the STRS Board approved report showing STRS is on tract to return to a 30 yr funding period within 2-3 years ASSUMING there are no net actuarial losses. The ORSC must, by law, be presented a plan from any system not funded at 30 or less years. The report is posted on the STRS website:
Actual experience rarely in sync to assumptions. Some assumptions will be met or exceeded and others will fall short. For ex., payroll growth has not been at expected level but investment returns for the last 3 yrs have far exceeded the assumption of 8% and gains were 14% meaning some of those gains were deferred to 2007, 2008, 2009 because of smoothing. So 'smoothing' of gains and losses over 4 yrs. are recognized evenly over the current and subsequent 3 yrs.: 25% per year. Calculations are done every year and roll forward. A review of all assumptions is planned in 2008 as it is typical to review all actuarial assumptions every 5 yrs.
There is no assumption specifically for the number of active members in the future per se. Contributions and earnings on investments fund a member's retirement. If membership does not increase, payroll growth is less likely to inc. 4.5% and this affects funding liability.
In 2/06, the STRS Board took a prudent step to protect future liabilities deciding to consider pension benefit improvements ONLY when funding period is less than 30 yrs and funding ratio exceeds 85%. So, 13th cks, compound COLAS and enhanced pension formulas cannot be considered at this time.
Also, IF the HC legislation initiative is passed, the 1% deferred from employer contributions can be put back into the pension fund further accelerating the speed of funding reduction.
STRS returns up; expenditures down.
Internal management of investments continues to save STRS money. STRS saved $93.6 million thru internal management of investment assets.
Reports on STRS Website:
1. 2006 Comprehensive Annual financial Report
2. Results of the fiduciary performance audit
Caremark merger with CVS will not affect coverage
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We fall into a mid package range for investment staff bonus plans for investment returns. We pay more to our investment staff due to higher returns on their investments. STRS recommended adding more investment staff as we do most of our investing ithrough in house staff which will further increase costs and benefits for the investment dept.
INDIV SEEMINGLY EXCESSIVE HC COSTS: Much discussion ensued as Leone asked about total transparency regarding the travel policy and misc. expenditures. For ex., lunch was provided for the Board at today's meeting and Leone wanted to know if Board members should pay in light of the new policies on expenditures. Damon stated an on site working lunch (they meet now in Exec Session) during lunch is permissible vs. off site high cost meals.
Leone: letter from James Warner re:the fitting of a brace costing $65-70 was approved for a claim of $330 by Med Mut./Medicare. The fitting took only minutes and this retiree was most concerned over this inflated costs as was Dennis.
Greg Nickels of STRS HC made multiple inquiries over this researching costs with the provider, orthotic and prosthetic companies, a wholesale vendor and Medicare. The UCR (usual customary rate) was confirmed for the claim.
Leone wanted to know if something could be done to draw attention or object to Med Mut for allowing such a high payment for such a claim.
Nickels stated that the problem is all claims must be coded to be paid and there are 100 such braces with varying degrees of fitting needed. The approved amount is $393 and while some take less time and effort, others take more time and effort so it evens out. There is nothing in place to differentiate the 100 different braces requiring various amounts of time and effort for fittings. Otherwise, it would involve STRS being the only system trying to bill without codes established nationally and may end of costing more for the paperwork, etc. Also, all claims must be contractually processed. Nickels did try to negotiate the cost down but was refused. Mr. Warner resolved the issue personally and is now satisfied, he said.
Leone felt something must be done as it is not acceptable doing nothing stating this is the tip of the iceberg with national HC costs and of course, Med Mut replied this is the allowed cost and whatever manual says is what we have to live by. STRS is a lead defendant in a couple of law suits and why not lead in this area.
All Board members and Damon and Nickels agree that attention to this is merited and the question is how to approach it. Mary Ann Cervantes pointed out every case cannot be personally separated from codes and processed as this is time and cost prohibitive of the HC staff time needing to do their jobs as well.
Nickels reiterated there has to be a coded claim process but STRS HC does draw attention to the providers that while profits must be made to pay for other items, it is hard to justify a claim cost to a retiree. The problem lies with overcharging for a Tylenol, care and procedures to pay for other HC areas where costs not met. ((For ex., prob. 50% pay for ER care while the costs are inflated to us who can pay to even out for those who cannot pay due to loss of insurance or indigent persons using the ER for their primary HC providers)). The providers want to know what hospitals will charge and the hospitals want to charge as much as possible to cover costs unpaid. Nickels stated there are Level I Trauma Centers having to close down because they are used beyond ability to pay for them. If those who can pay are not overcharged, they close, as losses have to be covered to stay open. This is a very complicated scenario and a national problem.
Johnson: HC unsustainable whether we get HC legislation or not with soaring increases. Thanked Nickels for his time and effort on this case and felt he did all he could. It brings to mind all of our indiv. claims and the outrageous costs for them. We need to use our institutional clout and combine with other systems to break thru cost issues.
Continue to work with other systems to enlarge group and form a coalition to try to benefit retirees in this area as we cannot keep up with HC costs.
Nickels: STRS has engaged with OPERS and others to face this urging hospitals to 'leap frog' (?) and have building transparency trying to reconstruct areas of HC.
Johnson: Providers and Insurance Cp. are adversaries in this area. United HC, in my area, wants to see hospital charges and hospital wants to charge whatever possible.
Jeff Chapman: We can't judicate every case but perhaps we could find some examples to broach this subject.
Puckett: We should pressure them to find a way.
MA Cervantes: We could put time and effort on bigger issues for a bigger impact like RX's vs. small claims to save the most money for retirees with our limited time and resources.
Nickels: We have monthly meetings with Aetna, Med Mut., etc on issues. We tell them they need to address issues and they do listen as we are a large client. It is correct to limit time as we cannot settle ever case for over a 100,000 retirees and get our jobs done.
Damon: It is approp. for retirees to contact us regarding concerns. I think Mr. Warner did the rt. thing.
The discussion went on with the theory of trying to enlarge our numbers by forming coalitions with other systems, etc. in order to effect better results.
Leone stated he will write Mr. Warner on his efforts to inform STRS of overcharging.
Leone asked when he would see and obtain a copy of the travel policy and how if affects STRS staff in writing. He stated he has asked for 3 months. Damon replied staff is in process of revising and it will be presented ASAP. Leone questioned the policy and whether it would be identical to the new Board policy for itself. Damon said it would say the staff should be mindful and consider the money spent is pension money. Leone said this is not the same with limits set and that he asked if the new policy would pertain to staff.
Damon stated the policy was being revised and would pertain to staff not that it would be identical.
Ramser said she did not feel staff who has to meet with money managers and rep us for business purposes should be held to standards of the Board who travels for inservice.
Damon stated $50 per day with only $25 of it allowed for dinner would not work in NY and Chicago and LA for dinner with business money managers. Leone didn't like the entire amount being used just for dinner which works for Board members. Damon said he thinks it's $60 for staff and it can all be used if in costly places as staff forego breakfast and lunch to use it for dinner. Can't eat with clients on $25 in NY, LA, Chicago. The staff policy will be consistent with other systems.
Ramser and Meuser stated the new policy was only for Board members and that it was brought up but not voted on for staff which is when Damon said staff policy would be revised.
Meuser said he did not agree to make it applicable to staff.
Ramser reiterated staff travels for different reasons repping us and meeting with money managers on business not for inservice.
Puckett wants to see figures of other systems to compare.
Leone wanted to vote on 'Team Building' issue of never again going to ball parks, zoos, King's Is., etc. under the label of team building. MA Cervantes, Puckett and Jeff all wanted to wait until the policy is written and Leone agreed. Mary Ann was concerned that the staff might think team building was frowned upon and wanted wording considered.
All agreed entertainment sites should be eliminated. Damon said nothing like this has occurred since 2003 and staff all pays for its own entertainment. Leone wanted it in writing to ensure it never occurs again.
They discussed how to properly word this to everyone's satisfaction and wanted to see it prior to voting on it.
Leone asked about vendor restrictions when visiting and Damon replied they would be the same as staff.
1. Bill Leibensperger: Re: AOL settlement/ HCA consensus:
Speaking as spokesperson for HCA's:

HCA's consensus:
- to put AOL settlement money into pension fund for benefit of all and prorate amount to HC if possible.
-Commit to long term solvency as when focus short term different groups affected differently but when focus long term, it benefits all with common goals and strength.
-stay above fray as under intense scrutiny
-stay on adopted guiding principles for pension and HC
- benefit enhancements should not be offered until unfunded liability under
30 yrs.
2. Dave Parshall spoke on behalf of CORE congratulating Leone on the Educator Learder Award being one of 100 considered as an educator advocate.
3. Bob Buerkle: spoke to 120 day rule for educators asking it not be changed as would adversely affect: educators out of long term sick leave, older educators, maternity leaves, interrupted service leave for veterans by delaying pensions, affecting average salaries and feels it wouldn't change benefit liability. 94% don't retire under this rule anyway.
4. Mark M_________?: Topics: RX costs tiers increase more than yrly COLAS. When are you going to negotiate lower with pharmaceutical companies ? When will you withhold local school income tax from checks vs. end of year lump sums.
5. Jim Reed: transparency must be in Board room; oversight, accountability here to stay. Less tolerance now of secret business with carte blanche decisions for membership. Retirees need to see you work on our behalf and recognize ORC is only benchmark for Board members vs. the disgusting behavior of past convicted Board members. I was speaking to a retiree who accepted their behavior saying he couldn't find fault with their behavior due to behavior of Enron, etc. This is sad for a retiree to say such a thing. Don't take the satisfaction ((of maybe 600 members) too seriously and rest on laurels. Exam policy, alter or abandon it for retirees. You can and must do better.
Leone asked about the 120 day rule; Damon said it was being brought back to Board in May. Leone asked Bill L. if HCA want focus on solvency why haven't they spoken to issues which were not toward solvency. Bill stated he was not aware of any and to let him know of such issues. Bill said we take stands on issues before you which we can all agree upon.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bob Buerkle’s speech to STRS Board, April 19, 2007

STRS – Who will be hurt if the 120 day rule is changed?

Staff recommendations to change the 120 day rule seem reasonable enough, but there will be some pain to many STRS members. Here are a few examples, but there are probably more than this.

  1. Teachers who run out of sick leave before the end of a school year. This sometimes happens to teachers after severe, chronic and long illnesses. It usually happens to our older teachers who are closer to retirement. This makes it even more devastating for them because they are losing important current income, and second, they also will be subject to a lifetime penalty in a reduced FAS pension calculation. If this proposed change in the 120 day rule goes into effect, they will be penalized in a third way: they will have to work into another year to make up for the shortfall of lost service credit time. This will cause a delay in starting their pension by many months in most cases.
  1. However, it could also happen to younger teachers who are struck down with terrible diseases, organ transplants and automobile or other accidents. We had one 34-year-old Cincinnati teacher, about five years ago, that had a heart transplant and was turned down for a disability. He was too weak and susceptible to infections to return to teaching that year, and his sick leave ran out. If this 120 day rule change had been in effect, he may not have earned a full year of service credit for that year.
  1. What about women who return from pregnancy leave after 2 years and can’t start the school year at the beginning of a year, but return weeks or several months into the year?
  1. The same thing could happen to people who have interrupted teaching careers due to military service that may end in say, September but they can’t start back until halfway through the year or later, due to no fault of their own. Eliminating the 120 day rule could, and will, hurt some of our returning veterans.
  1. I believe that changing this rule will also not substantially affect our unfunded liability or the length of our unfunded period by any significant amount. I believe this is born out from the staff statistics in last month’s report. The report also says that the number of retirees who use the 120 day rule in their final year is a very small percentage of the total number of retirees. And for nearly all of those teachers who select this option, they too will pay a penalty; they will have a lower final average salary used for their pension computations that will reduce their pensions and penalize them monthly for the rest of their lives. This then saves STRS money every month that they draw a pension. I think STRS will survive just fine without changing the 120 day rule in effect for many years. It is more of a member safety net than an abuse problem, and I hope you leave it alone.

Dave Parshall's speech to STRS Board, April 19, 2007

Dear Board Members and Audience,
I am David Parshall, a retired STRS member with 32 years of service. Today I speak to you as the president of CORE. I and the members of CORE wish to offer our congratulations to STRS board member Dr. Dennis Leone for his honor of being chosen for The Educators Leadership Award given by the Southwest Ohio Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools. Dr. Leone was selected from a list of 100 educators for this outstanding award because of his many efforts to press for reform and oversight since his election to the STRS board in 2005. CORE and all retired and active members of the STRS family owe Dr. Leone a great deal of gratitude for standing up for us all. It is not easy to take the road less traveled, but it often is the only right way to go.

John Curry to State Rep. Larry Flowers: Your bill would weaken SERS and STRS

From John Curry, April 19, 2007
Subject: House Bill 152
Representative Flowers,
I write to you today to relate my feelings concerning HB 152 (alternative investments). As I understand this bill that you co-sponsored, I see that it relates to offering alternative investments to employees of Ohio's public schools rather than sending their retirement contributions into STRS and SERS.
As you know, with the stock market crunch of the early 2000's and some recently corrected mismanagement, misspending, and entitlement mentalities at STRS, both of these funds are now on the road to recovery. Albeit, healthcare premiums for both systems are now putting a major dent in their respective retirees' wallets, but this situation exists throughout the entire nation (to a greater or lesser degree). One thing is for sure....these state retirement systems need every penny they get from employers' contributions (the school systems) and employees so that their state administrated retirement systems can remain solvent and continue to produce retirement checks for their fiduciaries.
HB 152, if passed, would ensure that some of the badly needed monies that would normally go to the respective retirement systems will now go to private investors ....along with associated fees and personal profit - that is unless those investors are willing to give this service for free - that, I doubt!
I chose to write to you rather than Mr. Widener, Mr. Seitz, and Mr. Combs because I note that you are a former fire chief - a former public servant. I wonder how the boys down at the fire house and the retirees from that public service would accept the fact that your bill would assist in gutting the Ohio Police and Fire pension fund had Ohio public fire department employees been included in your bill?
Well, they weren't, were they? Or, how about PERS employees/retirees and the Highway Patrol employees/retirees?
In short, your bill will assist in weakening both SERS and STRS should it pass. This bill does no service to public educators, employees of Ohio school systems, SERS, or STRS.
John Curry
30 year retiree of Ohio's public schools
Proud member of Concerned Ohio Retired Educators (CORE)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Who sponsored and co-sponsored HB 152: alternative retirement plans for teachers and district employees?

From John Curry, April 18, 2007
Subject: Who sponsored and co-sponsored HB 152
So, who are the State Representatives who sponsored HB 152 (alternative retirement plans for teachers and school system employees) and co-sponsored this bill? Here they are: Widener sponsored it and Combs, Flowers, and Seitz co-sponsored this bill which will take monies away from STRS. If they are YOUR representatives.....please give them a piece of your mind! John
John Chris Widener (R) District 84
77 S. High St
12th Floor Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Telephone: (614) 466-1470
Fax : (614) 719-6984
Email Address:
Term in Office: 4th (This includes appointed and elected terms)
City: Springfield
Occupation: Architect
REPRESENTATIVE Courtney Eric Combs (R) District 54
77 S. High St
12th Floor Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Telephone: (614) 644-6721 Fax : (614) 719-6954
Email Address:
Term in Office: 3rd
City: Hamilton
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Larry L. Flowers (R) District 19 Majority Floor Leader
77 S. High St
14th Floor Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Telephone: (614) 466-4847 Fax : (614) 719-6958
Email Address:
Term in Office: 4th
City: Canal Winchester
Occupation: Retired Fire Chief
Bill Seitz (R) District 30 Majority Whip
77 S. High St
14th Floor Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Telephone: (614) 466-8258
Fax : (614) 719-3584
Email Address:
Term in Office: 4th
City: Cincinnati
Occupation: Attorney; Legislator

John Curry to Gary Russell: Time for transparency with PBMs

John Curry to Gary Russell, April 18, 2007
Fwd: Re: Gary, I still haven't received an answer!

Good to hear from you. As an educated man, I find it difficult to believe that you misunderstood my direct questions to you (in two separate emails) as to who was allowed to come to STRS and view our current Caremark contract in its entirety. I guess we'll have to leave that up to the interpretation of the reader. From what you have now related.... it appears that even our very own STRS Board members are not allowed to view and/or discuss the terms of the contract in public. In my mind, this conflicts with Ohio's Sunshine Laws especially since public tax monies are used (in part) in the form of payments by STRS to our current PBM for Rx for retirees. That sounds like another battle on another day, doesn't it?
Your statement to me, in your email below, indicates that you still believe that PBM's are still saving significant dollars to those with whom they contract:
"All PBMs keep their pricing information confidential from competitors which, enables STRS Ohio to negotiate lower drug pricing for the overall market basket of prescription drugs."
That being said, I would like to ask you to think back a few years to 2003 when STRS was forced to take a PBM (Medco) to court in Cincinnati. I'm sure that you remember that one, don't you? For the reader, here is a capsule of that event:

"Ohio v. Medco Health Solutions, Inc. - On December 22, 2003 the state of Ohio filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court against Medco Health Solutions. The suit held that the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio was overcharged millions of dollars for prescription drugs. The State Teachers Retirement System sought up to $50 million from Medco, including $36 million in alleged overcharges for the dispensing fees on mail-ordered medications. Other allegations claim that Medco undercounted pills when filling prescriptions and permitted non-pharmacists to dispense and cancel patient prescriptions without the necessary oversight by a licensed pharmacist. The case also contended that Medco steered doctors, pharmacists, and patients to choose brand-name and higher-cost medications manufactured by Merck rather than selecting generic equivalents. On December 19, 2005 the Plaintiff's verdict found Medco liable for constructive fraud and awarded $6.9 million in damages plus $915,000 for the State Teachers Retirement System. It was found that PBMs have a fiduciary responsibility. And numerous settlement agreements involving varying degrees of information disclosure strongly recommend transparency as a reasonable solution to the problem."
"Proactive Litigation Against PBMs" Atty. David Balto - Feb. 14, 2006
Mr. Balto was a former FTC attorney who now is with a law firm in Washington DC. A "search engine" entry of Mr. Balto's name will certainly reveal his stellar credentials.
Gary, I'll have to agree with you in that we (STRS) are pretty well limited by the fact that we have to contract with a PBM for Rx - that is, unless multiple retirement systems in Ohio go together and form their own PBM. You and I both know that isn't feasible at the moment. But, what IS feasable is for STRS (and possibly other Ohio retirement systems) to forcefully negotiate for much more transparency in our soon-to-be negotiated contract with our next PBM."
I would like to attend the May meeting (that you mentioned) and will try to adjust my work schedule to be there. Had I retired with OPERS (with the same 30 years on the job) I wouldn't have this worry about my schedule adjustment as my total monthly healthcare premiums (spouse included) for an 80/20 PPO would be a reasonable $80 rather than the $600 plus that STRS wants for the same coverage. Instead, I am back to work so that I can afford "affordable" health care premiums for my wife and myself for a little less than $200 per month at my current job. I feel very sorry for those pre-65 year old retirees who are unable to do the same due to poor health. I am lucky!
Attorney Balto has a piece (attached to this email) which contains some suggestions concerning dealing with PBMs at contract time. I would trust that you would find time in your day to peruse the article and pass some of the suggestions on to those at STRS who will soon negotiate our next PBM contract. Thank you for your getting back to me on this issue.


Gary Russell responds to John Curry: All PBMs keep their pricing information confidential from competitors

From Gary Russell, April 18, 2007
Subject: RE: Gary, I still haven't received an answer!

John, I'm sorry that you felt I was dodging your question. However, from your e-mails I thought that you wanted to review the contract for the details about the prior authorization process. Since the prior authorization details, including the timetable, are not part of the contract, I had assumed your question about reviewing the contract was moot.

Records of the system are available for public inspection, unless a record falls within one of the statutory exemptions from disclosure under Ohio's public records law. In the case of the Pharmacy Benefits Management Agreement, between State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio and Advance PCS Health, L.P., as an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of CaremarkPCS, as amended January 1, 2005, STRS Ohio is contractually prohibited from disclosing any of the pricing information or terms contained in the agreement except as part of an audit of the agreement to an auditor that is bound by a confidentiality agreement or as specifically required to disclose such pricing information or terms by applicable law.

All PBMs keep their pricing information confidential from competitors which, enables STRS Ohio to negotiate lower drug pricing for the overall market basket of prescription drugs. There will be an education session on Prescription Benefit Managers at the May board meeting.


RH Jones on the dangers of being a teacher

From RH Jones, April 18, 2007
Subject: A total of 5-teachers out of 33 killed at VT

To all:
The media has announced that a total of five teachers lost their lives in the tragic shooting at VT. They will not get to enjoy their retirement. One, teacher hero, was spared in the Holocaust was gunned down on the vary day of it's remembrance. This hero, Liviu Libresau, was killed standing in the door blocking the killer. At this time, who knows the heroism of the other four teachers who lost their lives?
Just this morning the Beacon on page B4 mentioned that: "Ohio State warning community of bacterial meningitis danger. A 20-year old Ohio student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis is being treated at the OSU Medical Center."... Obviously, medical personnel are exposed to it, but SO ARE TEACHERS! Over the many years past, the public has had the image of teaching as being a safe, secure and tranquil profession. That is not so; it is froth with many dangers.
My motivation in keeping the violence against teachers, and other hazards of our careers, in the eyes of the public is to help them realize the many perils of the job and, thusly, to support professional public school teachers financially Pre-K-16. Here in Ohio, passage of an increase in the employer/employee contribution would at least be a help in providing HC/Rx to those of us who survived until retirement. This is my opinion.
Robert Hudson Jones, A retired Ohio teacher

What will THIS do to our pension fund???

From John Curry, April 18, 2007
Subject: Here we go again.... Alternative Retirement Plans for school employees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This time is wasn't Michelle Schneider who introduced it!!
HB 152 RETIREMENT PLANS (Widener) - To require school boards to establish alternative retirement plans for teachers and school employees.
Posted on Wed, Apr. 18, 2007
Legislative floor actions
Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Legislative floor actions in the House of Representatives and Senate from Tuesday, April 17.
HB 152 RETIREMENT PLANS (Widener) - To require school boards to establish alternative retirement plans for teachers and school employees.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spin time in Summit County? Bob, surely you jest!

John Curry to RH Jones, April 17, 2007
Subject: Spin time in Summit County? Bob, surely you jest!
I find it interesting that some Summit County RTA people found Dennis's letter "negative" in nature. Gee, these folks could get a full time job with some of the media giants as spinmeisters! Let's see...first we have an ORTA initial statement (re. Leone's report) that it was 'old news' and that was the reason for the lack of distribution in the ORTA Quarterly. Now we have the "negative" spin as to why Dr. Leone's letter was not published. Wonder what the next spin will entail??

If they wanted to see "negative" they should have read (some didn't, I'm sure- admittedly including Ramser) Dr. Leone's initial 13 page report re. mismanagement, misspending, and the entitlement attitude of the "old" STRS Board and administration. Then, for good measure, they could reread the court news and been enlightened re. the multitude of criminal convictions of Ohio ethics violations by a majority of former STRS Board members plus the former Executive Director..... now THAT is what you call "negative!"

If it is only "positive" that some in Summit County want....maybe Dennis could have written several paragraphs about the comparisons of the salad bar at the STRS cafeteria as compared to the salad bar at a Summit County RTA meeting. The " I'm only here for the meat and mashed potatoes" crowd could really feel a sense of accomplishment by reading those details!

Reform of a retirement system, legislative bills being lobbied and passed, and the making of sausage aren't pretty processes, but happens. The REAL positive news is that the trio of Leone, Lazares, and AG Dann continue to do "their thing" to the betterment of all Buckeyes! Some people wouldn't recognize that reform is positive news.... even if it bit them in the butt!


a PROUD CORE member
...almost an ORTA member - but now, more-than-ever glad that I didn't join after all
From RH Jones, April 17, 2007
Subject: The employer/employee increase

To all;
At the SummitCRTA Bd. today, it was brought out that the reason the Leone message was not published in the ORTA Quarterly was the comments were negative to STRS and we should focus on the passage of an increase in the employer/employee contribution for HC/Rx.
I agree with this thinking but wonder that my ORTA may be overreacting. It did not seem to me to be negative to STRS when only constructive comments were mentioned in Leone's report. That's my opinion. ( If anyone cares!) Above all, I am for transparency.
RHJones, CORE and ORTA member

RH Jones: Irony of violence toward teachers Pre-K-16

From RH Jones, April 17, 2007
Subject: Irony of violence toward teachers Pre-K-16

To all:
It is ironic that just a day after my message was e-mailed concerning teacher assaults, at 9:50 a.m. yesterday, the news media would report that: A Virginia Tech professor would be the first shot as the gunman barged into the classroom. The professor died of a gunshot to the head. The shooter then fired on students. In all, 30 more rounds were squeezed off in about a minute and a half.
At this point in time, I do not know if any other teachers were shot out of the total of 33 persons reported killed. Of course a teacher's life is no more precious than students. My point is: Since it seems over the years to be a continuing "open season" on teachers, a proper memorial monument should be built on the grounds of the NEA Building in Washington. This is my opinion.

Robert Hudson Jones, a retired Ohio teacher.& Life Member of the NEA, NEA-R
From, April 17, 2007:
Israeli professor of Romanian origin Liviu Librescu numbers among those killed in the Virginia Tech University massacre on Monday. According to the International Herald Tribune, Librescu sacrificed his life to save his students. He had blocked the access to his classroom so that students could run from the attacker.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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