Thursday, June 29, 6000

NOTE: To find the most current posts, please scroll down to the two big red arrows. You can't miss them.

Tuesday, February 15, 4000

STRS Ohio Watchdogs: a public Facebook group you can join

by Cindy Murphy
STRS Ohio Watchdogs monitor the management and investment practices of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.
We advocate for prudent and transparent investments, the restoration of the COLA for retired teachers, and the rollback of additional years of service required for active teachers.
This site will provide you with information about the work that is being done by Ohio's active and retired teachers to preserve our retirement benefits. Check back often for updates.
Join our conversation on Facebook. You don't have to be a member of STRS Ohio to join. Everyone who is interested in learning more about the management and investment practices of STRS Ohio is welcome.
Use this link to join our pack on Facebook:.

Sunday, August 27, 3950

Have you joined the Ohio STRS Member Only Forum on Facebook?

If you are a member of STRS Ohio and have a Facebook account, you are eligible to join thousands of others who make up the Ohio STRS Member Only Forum. This is a closed group of retirees and actives who are advocating for the return of our COLA, which, as you no doubt know, your STRS Board SUSPENDED on April 20, 2017. Two of our members, Bob Buerkle and Dean Dennis, filed a class action lawsuit against STRS on May 23, 2019 suing for the reinstatement of our COLA. The text of the lawsuit can be found on this blog. You can go here to join the Forum and sign the petition, already signed by more than 20,000 people, for the return of our COLA: Ohio STRS Member Only Forum

Click image to enlarge

Monday, June 25, 3900

Angel of Grief

Monday, June 24, 3850

Garrison Keillor

Wednesday, May 28, 3800

Items of interest in the Archives: The 2013 STRS Board Election

Many people have been very interested in reading about the irregularities of the 2013 STRS board election. There are many posts related to this topic, beginning the first week of April 2013, after the ballots were mailed to retirees from STRS. You can find them by going to the Archives for this blog, over in the right sidebar, and clicking on dates beginning with April 7, 2013. Dennis Leone announced his candidacy for a retired seat in November, 2012. There is a lot of information about him in the Archives, beginning with November 12, 2012 posts. If you want to read only the best stuff about that infamous election of 2013, go over to the sidebar on the right of where you are now, which is the archives of previous articles on this blog. Scroll down to April 2013. That's where the "interesting" articles begin. You will see many, clear up to the middle of May 2013.5/28/13

Friday, February 27, 3750 what REALLY happened in 2003 that touched off a firestorm at STRS that is still smoldering today? Read it here, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (Hint: It ain't over yet!)

More here (Akron Beacon Journal, 2003)

Sunday, April 11, 3700

Thursday, March 10, 3650

To find current, day-to-day posts -- pull your scroll bar down a ways, just below the big red arrows (you can't miss them). Thanks.


Friday, February 24, 3550

Find your state representative and senator here.

Monday, April 29, 3450

I know, it's weird.........

Many posts that appear "at the top" for a while are eventually moved down, where they can be found under their original posting dates. Also, if you are confused by the postdating, this is done to keep these posts up there; otherwise, they drift down when new posts are added. It's a "blog thing" which I have no other way to control. KB

Monday, February 24, 3400

Handy links: Contacts, information and more (short version)
This is an abbreviated version of the original 'Handy links' post.
 Click here to view a more complete list. (Some of it is old.)

STRS Board.....STRS website

Board calendar

E-mail contacts at STRS (old, but some may still work)

Map/directions to STRS, 275 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43215

Rich DeColibus' PowerPoint presentation STRS' PBI Program; Does it work?: click December 21, 2008 (blog Archive) and scroll down to December 23 posts.

Popular links; click, then scroll down: , , , ,

Tuesday, February 24, 3350

SPECIAL (must read):

Dennis Leone's INVESTIGATIVE REPORT on STRS: May 16, 2003...Who is Dennis Leone?........(PDF version)...More on Dennis Leone .......(PDF version)
Dennis Leone's STRS Report to ORTA, March 2007
Dennis Leone's Testimony at the Statehouse 9/5/12
The Plain Dealer article that started it all
Historic PBI vote, January 16, 2009

Tuesday, February 23, 3300


Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Pat Davidson is an active teacher in the Berea, Ohio schools and is currently running for the open seat on the STRS Board. Below are snapshots of his campaign flyer. To access the many live links, please see the flyer at 

Go to to access all the live links for these images, and to vote for Pat Davidson if you are an active teacher. Your future depends on it.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

What happens if your local teachers association leaves the OEA and the NEA? Several NE Ohio groups have done just that, and they are flourishing. Take a look. (OEA, maybe you should, too.)

“We love our local union, but don’t like what the OEA has done with our pension.”

We are hearing this from so many teachers these days. Maybe they should take a look at what some other locals have done.
In the late 1970s, the teachers of the Akron School District voted overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from OEA/NEA. Their purpose for this change was to seek the autonomy that comes from being independent, plus a reduction in dues cost.
But it also helped them become strong union advocates that could be just as aggressive, if not more so, than the state and national union affiliates they once belonged to.
During the separation process, OEA/NEA used many scare tactics, all of which were overcome. The biggest was on the subject of liability insurance, which was easily resolved with a group liability plan.
As of 2018, the AEA, the Akron Education Association, annual dues were $235.00 This modest assessment covered a group liability plan, a legal retainer, officers, and an employed secretary. 
There are three other NE Ohio districts that followed the footsteps of the AEA: Solon, Shaker Heights, and Kent. All of them remain independent today. 
OEA, are you listening?
Submitted by a friend of teachers

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Bill Neville's testimony before the Ohio House Pensions Committee 3/21/2023

House Pensions Committee Meeting

March 21, 2023

His comments start at about 51:21.

Toledo Blade 3/21/23: Some questions for the House Pensions Committee about the STRS pension fund


Monday, March 20, 2023

Dan MacDonald to STRS Board 3/16/2023: Demand to know the full story on passive investments

From Dan MacDonald

March 20, 2023
Good morning STRS Board. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am Dan MacDonald, an STRS retiree with 38 plus years of service. I am also the Executive Director of Local 279-R, North East Ohio AFT retirees.
Last month Richard Ennis and William F. Sharpe along with Edward Siedle and Hans Christian Andersen were referenced. I took to Google for reference and searched “Passive Financial Investment Gurus.” I found an article titled “Legendary investment guru Peter Lynch says the move to index funds is a ‘mistake.’” L.A. Times Michael Hiltzik addressed Lynch, direct indexing, and much more, but concluded that Lynch’s claim that active stock-picking beats the market, simply isn’t true. “For much of the nearly half-century in which index funds have been an option for the average investor, they’ve been the way to go. It’s commonly said on Wall Street that past performance is no guarantee of future results. But that applies more accurately to individual investments. As a class, the record of index investing in the past is indisputable.”
So here at STRS we get monthly presentations and articles to defend a large investment department. You, the eleven of you, the fiduciaries that are appointed and elected to be vigilant of this pension. Use the talent on this Board to schedule a mix of passive investment gurus to give presentations and listen to the other side of active management. Probably, more than half of you need to know about passive investments, their timelines, their pros and cons. Make a motion and demand to hear the full story. Ultimately, both styles are needed, but it is obvious to the audience that only one style is presented by STRS staff and then reinforced by STRS consultants. By the way, speaking of passive investments, how is that new real estate office in Chicago performing?
Ultimately, you are on the Board to represent actives and retirees and this pension. Actives need their benefits re-enhanced and retirees need your help with COLA and more.
Additionally, since the Investment Department didn’t report this morning, if STRS invested in Silicon Valley Bank and/or Signature Bank, I hope you acknowledge any current losses, but I also acknowledge no one bats 1,000. Transparency.
[In the afternoon, staff did addressed the loss.]

Dan MacDonald reports on that long, long March 2023 STRS Board meeting

From Dan MacDonald

March 20, 2023
Thank you to anyone that signed into the March 16, 2023 STRS Board meeting. The meeting started at 8:30 AM and ended at 6:15 PM.
The Investment Committee also held a March 15 noon meeting to seek a future general financial consultant and an alternatives investment consultant. Three firms responded to STRS’s RFP [Request for Proposal], but one withdrew, leaving Callan, LLC and Albourne Alternatives Investment Consultants. Each responder was given 15 minutes to introduce their company, 50 minutes for committee members questioning, and finally, 10 minutes for final remarks. After the two presentations, the committee decided to continue its search for a general financial consultant but also to bring back Callan and Albourne for 2nd interviews in April for a determination of an alternative investment consultant.
The March 16th meeting began with the Finance Department report on a Sustainable Benefit Enhancement Plan. In 2012 the Ohio General Assembly granted the Board limited authority to adjust COLAs, Member Contributions and Eligibility Retirement Requirements. The Board can act on these only in conjunction with its actuary, currently Cheiron. Cheiron has created a three-part fiscal integrity test into the STRS annual budget process to determine if funds are available for enhancements/restorations. Cheiron will present at the April Board meeting in combination with STRS’s proposed 2024 budget. [Much discussion. No one wants to go backwards with the fund’s financial health. In 2021 STRS closed at 87.8 percent fully funded. In 2022 STRS closed at 78.9 percent fully funded.]
Public Participation concluded the morning session with 7 speakers. Four speakers spoke on broken STRS promises; two in support of the Board and Neville, and one suggested passive consultants gurus present before the Board.
After lunch the Investment Department presented until 5:37 PM. First, a vote on the Adoption of the Amended Stock Proxy Voting Policy was postponed for further understanding of the policy by Board member Jones.
February’s return was shared. The return was a negative 1.51% for February with approximately $87.3 billion in total investment assets; January’s total assets were approximately $89.0 billion.
STRS’s investment in Silicon Valley Bank was addressed. STRS reported a loss of $27.2 million in stock with a 102,000 shares exposure. The importance of portfolio diversity was emphasized as well as this stock being widely held throughout portfolios and part of the S&P 500 and Russell 3000. In other bank closings, Signature Bank, Silvergate Bank, etc., STRS had no holdings. [It was mentioned that if SVB was indexed, STRS would have lost $9 million.]
Outside consultant Callan presented on economic updates and capital markets. New asset allocations and capital markets projections indicate STRS should do better this year. Callan expects a 7 percent return with less risk. Callan went on to report on Public Fund Sponsors and STRS outperforming over 90 percent of its peers over a long period of time. The CEO of Callan, Greg Allen, addressed the Board on current benchmarking practices and what is an “Empirical Benchmark” as coined by Richard Ennis and developed by William F. Sharpe. Allen’s conclusion, Empirical Benchmark is a great tool for determining investment style, but not appropriate to apply at STRS after the fact. Fichtenbaum agreed somewhat with Allen but challenged the benchmarks and their calculations.
Outside consultant Cliffwater LLC did a performance review of Alternative Investments and showed how they add to STRS overall portfolio. Head of STRS Alternative Investments, Aaron DiCenzo, followed up on the purpose of Alternative Investments and STRS’s business model evolution and its strengthening of STRS general fund.
Finally, Callan led Board members through 10 Investment Belief statements which were a recommendation from the Funston fiduciary audit.
The Executive Director’s report followed. Neville addressed 6 items, 4 of which we share. Rhonda Hare is retiring after 23 years of service to STRS. [Rhonda makes STRS flow.] Retirements are 23% higher than the same period last year. FY2024 Budget is underway. Board election for a contributing [active] member seat takes place late March with ballots sent out and a Monday, May 1 deadline to vote. Two candidates – Arthur Lard, currently on Board, and Patrick Davidson, teacher from Berea. [Local 279-R encourages actives to vote for Patrick Davidson for many reasons two of which are that Mr. Lard rarely adds to Board discussion and, as chair of STRS’s Health Committee, he hasn’t ever scheduled his committee.]
Routine matters ensued. The meeting ended with Old Business/New Business, and, as has been happening recently, fireworks. Dr. Hunt made a statement on why he voted confidence for Mr. Neville which included a 3% COLA last year, eliminating 60 years of age for retirement, health care premium rebates and much more along with a request to the Board to talk before presenting a motion. Steen requested his name be removed from outgoing STRS reports while Herrington chimed in on e-updates and Price stated that STRS should correct misinformation. Fichtenbaum challenged STRS’s findings of misinformation and Sellers reported election interference. Correthers meanwhile asked to be approved for a Callan Institute workshop plus Price, Sellers, Fichtenbaum and Jones all had to give a report on a meeting they attended. [Truly, sign into and click on heading ABOUT US, find RETIREMENT BOARD and then click on Most Recent Board Meeting Materials, then look for March 2023 retirement Board Meeting Presentations. Forward the video to the last 20 minutes of the meeting.]
Next Board meetings, April 19, 20, 21, 2023 with probable date April 20.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Dean Dennis to STRS Board, 3/16/2023: Some critical findings from State Auditor Faber and financial expert Richard Ennis

March 16, 2023 - Dean Dennis, retiree from Cincinnati Public Schools, ORTA President Elect 

• You need to keep the promises to the people who were made reliant, based upon those promises.  
• Based upon those promises, people structured their lives accordingly and they should be entitled to the benefits of that bargain. 

That was the message from State Auditor Keith Faber a week ago at a meeting of the Ohio Retirement Study Council.

His other takeaways: a lack of transparency, whether actual or perceived, which has spawned the distrust, misunderstandings, and accusations that made the special audit necessary. 

He also shared that STRS should strive to be as transparent as possible regarding the funds held in their trust. He suggested reconsidering trade secret provisions that shield investment decisions from scrutiny, to eliminate the distrust harbored by many beneficiaries towards the STRS investment staff. He further stated it would be beneficial to reconsider performance bonuses, noting that the one thing his office really flagged was the use of awarding bonuses by using internal benchmarks.

ORTA and social media groups agree with our state auditor. We also take seriously the findings of widely recognized financial expert Richard Ennis, who points out that STRS is underperforming industry-accepted benchmarks. Like our state auditor, Ennis believes STRS's active management of funds has cost the pension fund members tens of billions of dollars. 

Trustees, our members cannot make the needed changes. Only you can. Members can only elect seven trustees who they believe are listening to them, and vote the others out. To our appointed trustees, we hope you hear our concerns and grasp the extent of our financial injuries. When we have concerns as to whether you are listening to us, we can only lobby those who appointed you.

Last month there was a vote of confidence taken, regarding our executive director. It didn't pass. We thank our Board for taking that vote, making it quite clear which trustees were open to reform as opposed to those who are content with business as usual. "Business as usual" has gotten us to a point where our teachers are forced to pay 14% of their salaries for a projected 12% return in value upon retirement. 

Lastly, regarding inflation relief. On behalf of members we want to give a thank you to the trustees who voted for the one-time COLA last year. Not on the Board last year were trustees Falls, Foreman, Jones and Sellers. Trustee Steen was not in attendance. So a thank you to trustees Correthers, Fichtenbaum, Herrington, Hunt and Price for your "yes" votes.  

Cathy Steinhauser to STRS Board 3/16/2023: We want our permanent COLA back


Suzanne Laird to STRS Board, March 16, 2023: Cut the blarney; cut the bonuses

Suzanne Laird's speech to the STRS Board, March 16, 2023

Good morning, Members of MY Board,
It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and I wonder how many educators in Ohio feel lucky?
Current teachers must work longer for less and retirees still have no permanent COLA.
Gee, how lucky can we get?
I do feel lucky to have a few Board members who actually attempt to challenge the shenanigans around  here and I am desperately hoping our newly appointed Board member is astute at recognizing how the STRS Social Media Elf may have kissed the Blarney Stone waaaay too many times.
I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky in that, unlike the Panda Power debacle, which was hidden from us for years, last month, we quickly uncovered the the fact that our investment leprechauns have been dabbling in cryptocurrencies, and this week, those same elves lost a huge pot o’gold in the Silicon Valley Bank collapse!
Ah, but Callan’s connivers will try to convince us there is “very little risk” in our portfolio.
The Social Media Elf will magically spin these losses into marshmallows and rainbows!
Don’t you dare fall for it! It’s mid-March, but this madness must end now.
Two huge losses (that we know of) in the first quarter of 2023?!
If you allow even one bonus this year, or one penny in raises, you will be incentivizing this bad behavior. Auditor Faber got it right: transparency must be increased and those golden bonuses scrutinized. You now have the evidence that the investment staff is not as skilled as they claim, and are relying on luck.
The teachers of Ohio aren’t asking for magic, we’re asking for exactly what we were contractually promised. We want to be the envy of the other pension systems, proud and lucky to be treated with the respect we deserve.
Cut the blarney, cut the bonuses.

Special thanks to STRS and OEA for the continuing skyrocketing numbers in the membership of the Facebook group Ohio STRS Member Only Forum. We couldn't do it without you. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Robin Rayfield on STRS's huge loss in the Silicon Valley Bank failure

Message from ORTA to Members

March 15, 2023
STRS loses millions more in Silicon Valley Bank failure
By now many of you have heard that the largest bank failure since the Great Recession took place over the weekend as Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed.
Out of all the public pension funds in the United States – guess which one had the largest holdings (by far) in this failing bank according to reports.
That’s right – STRS.
According to public filings Ohio teachers will lose millions of dollars in yet another example of STRS leadership asleep at the wheel.
Not only is STRS gambling away our hard-earned dollars, but they are horrible gamblers.
Enough is enough.
STRS fund mismanagement has resulted in lost COLA’s and broken promises for retired teachers while active teachers are being forced to pay more and work longer for less benefits.
It’s time for STRS Executive Director Bill Neville to save Ohio public education from further embarrassment and resign his position.
Earlier today, ORTA’s Executive Director testified in front of the State Board of Education informing them of this latest gambling loss and the recent vote of no confidence in the STRS Executive Director made by the STRS board.
Please click here to send a note to your representative on the State Board of Education  calling for real leadership change at STRS and the end of the Neville administration.
Your voice matters. Together we are making a difference.
 Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association
250 E Wilson Bridge Rd, Worthington, OH 43085

Robin Rayfield's March 2023 report to ORTA members

ORTA Executive Director Robin Rayfield's report to members

From ORTA Newsletter
March 15, 2023 

STRS Update
Finally! Over the last couple of months information supporting the many criticisms ORTA has leveled at STRS have been verified. Auditor of State Faber conducted a special audit of STRS.
The audit was directed at determining if STRS engaged in fraud. Faber’s report indicated no fraud and that STRS had followed its policies when awarding bonuses to its investment staff. Of course, STRS ‘shouted from the rooftops’ that the auditor found no evidence of fraud. However, what was not in the headline of the report, and unfortunately somewhat buried in the lengthy report was support of many of the claims ORTA has made.
Faber Highlights
Auditor Faber was critical of the transparency at STRS and encouraged changes.
Most importantly, Auditor Faber confirmed the notion that the actions of STRS with regards to investments were not effective. In fact, the auditor noted that STRS would have been much better off with a passive approach to investing as opposed to the risky active management approach STRS uses. Specifically, Auditor Faber agrees with ORTA that our pension system ‘lost’ to a indexed benchmark in 13 of the 22 years since 2009. Please understand that had STRS simply invested in index funds, at little to no cost, STRS’s bottom line would be $12.5 billion more than it is.
For all the aggravation and angst over paying unearned bonuses, and paying consultants to say wonderful things about STRS, our pension system would have $12.5 billion more if we simply used a passive investment strategy.
Recently, STRS management attempted to downplay the media reports by renowned pension expert Richard Ennis confirming what Auditor Faber said about STRS investments. Unfortunately, Mr. Ennis’ credibility in the pension world greatly exceeds anyone at STRS. Let provide a quote from Mr. Ennis sent to the STRS board… .
The convention among large public pension funds in the US, like Ohio STRS, is for the staff and consultant to work together to contrive a benchmark that no one else could reproduce if their life depended on it. One that is opaque, complex, and purely subjective. One that is tweaked regularly by staff/consultant to hug the portfolio composition. One that demonstrably understates a fair return for the risk assumed. And one that invariably gives the misleading impression that the fund is outperforming passive management — adding value — when it is not. That, unfortunately, is today’s convention.
[See “Lies, Damn Lies and Benchmarks,” Journal of Investing, forthcoming.] VIEW HERE
We have a powerful message
STRS has lied continuously to keep its members in the dark. We have five STRS board members that are demanding change, including transparency and changes to investment. There are five status quo members that are fighting any changes at STRS. Newly appointed board member Alison Lanza Falls’ (appointed by the Treasurer of State Sprague) position is unknown. STRS board candidate Pat Davidson is committed to reform at STRS. Current incumbent candidate Art Lard is staunchly committed to the current status quo. This spring will be an interesting time at STRS…
Other ORTA Activities
ORTA offered testimony during the public participation portion of the February State Board of Education meeting. ORTA Executive Director Robin Rayfield spoke at the meeting of the State Board of Education in February asking for support for the five reform minded members of the STRS board. ODE holds one seat on the 11 member STRS board. Their current representative, Dr. Hunt, is a strong supporter of the current management team at STRS and votes in favor of the STRS management 100% of the time. Rayfield explained the current situation and provided reasons for the current situation. His comments were well received, however, only time will tell if the State Board of Education will step forward to help educators in Ohio.
And as always, if your membership is up for renewal, reminder you can do everything online at
- Dr. Robin Rayfield

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

From John Curry: Pages Shared With Ohio Department of Education Officials By ORTA - March 7, 2023

Sunday, March 05, 2023

The story on STRS investment benchmark: Richard Ennis tells it like it is, and it isn't pretty

From the Toledo Blade March 4, 2023

The Mess at STRS: Why we need Pat Davidson on the STRS Board

The following information was compiled from two Facebook Groups, Ohio STRS Member Only Forum and STRS Ohio Watchdogs, to educate ACTIVE TEACHERS regarding:



• STRS claims to be “one of the nation’s premier pension systems,” yet all retirees have gone at least five years without a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). For those who retired prior to 2013, the majority have gone without their contractually agreed 3% COLA for nearly 10 years.

Active teachers receive the least for their employee contribution upon retirement when compared to other educators in the US. Actives must pay 14% and work additional years, only to receive a reduced retirement benefit based upon five years Final Average Salary.

• STRS Investment staff are paid millions of dollars annually in bonuses, while our benefits are cut. STRS’s Chief Investment Officer, Matt Worley, earned a $446,481 performance- based incentive (PBI) last year in addition to his $373,000 salary = $819,481 annual income.

• Ohio law requires a fiduciary audit of STRS every ten years; however, it took 16 years before the last state audit was completed. Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber found that STRS missed out on $90 billion in gains from 2009-2021 due to poor investment strategies by STRS’s investment staff.

• STRS failed to implement key findings from this 2006 fiduciary audit (requiring more auditors, etc.).

• STRS retired members were so upset with the lack of transparency by STRS and the loss of COLA that they crowd-funded $75,000 of their own money for a forensic audit. OFT contributed $10,000. Hamilton County Retirees contributed $15,000. OEA was asked to donate, but they DECLINED.

• The 2021 forensic audit found that STRS overstates performance and understates expenses.

• It also found that STRS in-house investment strategies costs members $400 million annually.

• It revealed that STRS doesn’t know, or won’t tell, the value of its “alternate investments,” which have hidden fee structures. Warren Buffet repeatedly warns against these alternate investments, preferring simple index fund investing (which would have earned STRS $90 billion from 2009-2021).

• This forensic audit also determined that STRS is not transparent in its overall investments.

• In one alternate investment alone, Panda Power, STRS lost $525 million in 2018.

• The Panda Power loss was not publicly reported to the Board until three years after Panda Power’s bankruptcy, and only came to light due to the retirees’ crowd-funded forensic audit.


• STRS investment practices: Exorbitant expenses including consulting fees and hidden fund fees, high risk investment practices, losses (e.g., Panda Power, Infinity Q, etc.), and lack of transparency.

STRS staff salary increases and bonuses: This includes the 6% raise to STRS employees and more than $10 million in performance-based incentives (PBIs) to investment staffers in 2022.

STRS 2006 fiduciary audit findings: STRS ignored directives from the Ohio Retirement Study Council whose job is to provide oversight to the five state pension systems.

STRS Board and staff member travel: This includes “international and alternative investment due diligence trips to England, Turkey, China and Japan” (September 2019 STRS Expense Notes) and trips to Japan and India (November 2019 STRS Expense Notes).

Denying access to records: Wade Steen, STRS Board member/appointee of the Governor’s office, has been denied access to records by STRS that would allow him to meet his fiduciary obligation. He requested a special meeting of the Board in past years to discuss restoration of the COLA and reduction in active teacher contributions. The requested meeting still has not taken place.

• Benchmark Financial Services forensic auditor Ed Siedle and attorney Marc Dann have been denied access to STRS public files. STRS refuses to allow them to review our fund management for us.

STRS has regional real estate offices in San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York, staffed with numerous STRS employees. How well are these investors doing for us? Here is an example: STRS paid the highest amount per square footage ever recorded in Dallas history ($700 per sq. ft.) in 2019 for a downtown high-rise, at $180 million; in 2018, that same building had been sold for $46 million.


STRS active members contribute 14% of their salary to the pension fund, among the highest contribution rate for teachers in the nation. The combined 14% from active teachers and matching 14% from schools is the third highest rate in the nation. (FYI: Missouri and Nevada are slightly higher).

Active teachers are faced with increased years of service to become eligible for unreduced retirement benefits (35 years of service at any age or 5 years of service at 65 years of age).

• Newly retired Ohio teachers must wait five years to receive a COLA. Former retirees’ lifetime 3% COLA was frozen in 2013, reduced to 2% in 2014-2016 and eliminated in 2017. In 2022, they were provided a one-year only 3% COLA with no promise to them or to actives for any future COLA. Actives have no guarantee that they will ever receive a COLA in their retirement years.

• STRS has a fiduciary responsibility to over 500,000 members who provide years of service to Ohio schools and who may be entirely financially dependent on their STRS pension and COLA.

THE STATE OF OHIO AUDITOR, in a December, 2022 special audit, recognized that STRS did not keep up with the S&P 500 from 2009-2021, which could have generated $90 billion for the fund.

A SIMPLE COLA CHART PRIMER FOR BEGINNERS: Losses due to the loss of a 2% COLA; Ohio state law lowered the COLA from 3% to 2% for 2014-2016, then eliminated it.)


The next STRS Board election is this coming spring, 2023, and incumbent Board member Arthur Lard (active teacher member) needs to be shown the door. He has voted for huge, annual, multi-million dollar bonuses for STRS staff, continued pay increases for employees (6% in 2022) and NO COLA for retired teachers. He has not imposed even ONE SACRIFICE for STRS. If you do not vote, we will all continue to suffer. The spring 2023 election is for active teachers only.


Join the Ohio STRS Member Only Forum and STRS Ohio Watchdogs on Facebook (website: Join ORTA (Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association; active teachers can join for a mere $10). These groups will provide information and help you keep apprised of this situation.

Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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