Boardman educator sheds light on movement to protect and increase teachers' pensions
Boardman West Boulevard Elementary School counselor Amanda Scrocco said at least 30,000 educators across Ohio are banning together to spark a movement and fight for more security in their pensions.
Scrocco said teachers are demanding yearly cost of living adjustments in retiree pensions and fewer required years of service for active teachers. She said it's been over six years since pension adjustments were made to retirees to meet higher costs of living and want to see the State Teacher Retirement System prioritize these changes.
"We're working longer, we're contributing more and we're getting less back and I ask myself, would this be?" she asked, "Why is Ohio doing so poorly for their teachers?"
Scrocco questions why the investors servicing educators in the STRS awarded its own department millions in bonuses last year when Governor Mike DeWine said retirees have got nothing.
"We have to ask, where is this money going?" she asked, "If it's not going to us, where is this money going?"
This comes as there are two new board members of the STRS, one member just elected and one governor appointed. Scrocco said educators across the state fear whether the majority of the board will fight for them.
"Make good investments, allow retired teachers to have a cost of living increase that is so desperately needed," she said, "Let teachers that are ready to leave at 30 years, leave, with a good percentage of their salary to be able to live off of."
Scrocco said she was told her years of service required before receiving the pension increased from 30 years to 35 years since she began teaching over two decades ago.
Governor DeWine said in a statement in response to the concerns that he does question why STRS staff has received "raises and bonuses when education retirees have got nothing."
The STRA said in a statement, the Auditor of State found "no illegal acts or fraud in a special audit," and that investment performance is crucial to the company:
- Investment performance is crucial in both up and down markets for securing the financial condition of the pension fund. During the strong stock market of fiscal year 2021, STRS investment managers achieved a nearly 30% return and brought $22 billion into the pension fund. Like most investors, STRS Ohio experienced losses in fiscal year 2022. But our investment returns exceeded the State Teachers Retirement Board-approved benchmark, net of costs and expenses, and again outperformed the market and preserved around $1.8 billion of teachers’ funds.
- Performance-based incentives (PBI) are only awarded to eligible associates in the investment department. No associates outside of the investment department, including senior management, receive a PBI. STRS Ohio’s investment benchmarks, the PBI policy and the PBI payouts are approved by the Retirement Board.