My name is Thomas Curtis. I am a retired school teacher from Canton, Ohio. I retired from Plain Local schools in 1998.
In 2002, I noticed the cost of my health care benefit provided by STRS at retirement was increasing. After looking into this concern, I learned that STRS did not have the gold standard of healthcare as I was told at my retirement conference. I found that healthcare subsidies promised to retirees were arbitrarily being reduced. Near the end of 2003, the STRS board voted to remove all subsidy for spouses and dependent children, and reduce the 100% subsidy for benefit recipients to 75%. There was no grandfathering of current retirees. The OEA told everyone that our healthcare benefits were never promised, but dependent on the health of the health care stabilization fund (HCSF), and had never had a dedicated flow of income feeding the program. Apparently only the OEA knew about this, but never told active teachers such.
In 2003, I learned from an audit that Dr. Dennis Leone, an active superintendent in Chillicothe, had completed on his own that STRS was grossly mismanaging and misspending teacher’s contributions. In August 2003, I was part of a STRS protest rally that was organized by retirees from Plain Local schools and was held in front of the capital building in Columbus, blocks away from STRS. When the rally ended, roughly 400-500 retired teachers marched on STRS to attend the August board meeting. We were treated as unwelcomed visitors by STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer and were told when the meeting began to go home and stay there, that STRS had everything in order. That was a lie and the beginnings of the looting of STRS funds, which continued unabated by our legislators until this day. After that board meeting I and many others made a commitment to attend monthly board meetings going forward in order to try to determine how and why management was mismanaging and misspending teachers’ contributions. I was one of the initial retirees that started Concerned Ohio Retired Teachers (CORE) in 2003 (now dissolved) and have been involved in attempting to bring about change and reform at STRS ever since.
I feel the 5 reform board members elected over the past 2 years are close to bringing about change and reform, but that cannot begin until the board has a majority (6) of reform board members. My mission has continued for 2 decades. My mission today is to help to elect reform candidate Pat Davidson to be elected to the STRS board this April, thus bringing a majority of reform board members to the STRS board.
Save Ohio STRS