STRS Ohio Update From Acting Executive Director Lynn Hoover

Lynn Hoover  

The start of a new year is a natural time to look forward and reflect, and I did not want to miss an opportunity to wish our members, stakeholders and partners a Happy New Year. At STRS Ohio, we approach every year with the needs of more than half a million members as our top priority. We remain dedicated to making sure your retirement system is always here for you and serves all of our members, both active and retired.

To provide you with some insight into how we will continue to move the pension fund forward, I want to highlight a few key areas that showcase our sustainability and commitment to all members.

Your Pension Fund Is Well Positioned

I want to reassure you that your pension fund is in sound financial position. As of the most recent fiscal year-end, the total fund stands at $91 billion and is 81% funded. Also, the funding period is now the lowest in several decades at 11 years. For context, zero years means the pension system would be fully funded. I acknowledge in today’s world of social media and various sources of information, there may be confusion regarding the health of your pension fund. Please know that your pension is safe and secure and here for your lifetime. Whether you are currently retired, a few years away from retiring or in your first year in the classroom, you should take comfort that your benefits are here for you. The incredible responsibility of serving members over several decades is at the forefront of our thinking every day.

Pursuing Additional Resources

Having additional resources directed to STRS Ohio would serve to bolster the resiliency of the pension fund and allow the State Teachers Retirement Board to consider benefit improvements — such as sustainable inflation protection for retirees and reductions in service eligibility requirements for active teachers — sooner than would otherwise be possible.

STRS Ohio and other public pension funds keep a close eye on the ratio of active to retired teachers. Our ratio is one active teacher for every one retiree; 30 years ago, the ratio was two active teachers for every one retiree. Contributions from active educators and their employers bring in far less than what’s needed to cover pension benefits for retirees. Many other systems, around the state and country, have more active members to balance fewer retired members. Fortunately, over the long-term, investment returns help us bridge the gap to pay benefits.

The employer contribution rate for teachers in Ohio is the second lowest among states where teachers are not covered by Social Security. The Retirement Board has directed STRS Ohio staff to pursue legislation that would phase in an increase in employer contributions over a few years. Despite previous efforts to increase the employer rate, it has remained the same since 1984.

Looking Ahead

We are beginning to work with the state legislature and encouraging members and other stakeholders to join us in these important conversations. More details on the efforts to pursue an employer rate increase and how you can help will be available soon. We look forward to partnering with our members on this important endeavor.

Our town hall initiative to share and listen to members around the state will continue throughout 2024. We remain committed to communicating with members and appreciate your valuable input and feedback. We understand that benefit changes can impact you in different ways. We care about your experiences and will continue to move the pension fund forward with you.

In closing, I hope this New Year is a healthy one for you and your loved ones. Here at STRS Ohio, we remain dedicated to serving educators in the classroom and retirees through 2024 and beyond. Thank you for all that you do.

Lynn Hoover
Acting Executive Director

The mission of STRS Ohio is to provide Ohio’s public educators a foundation for their financial security. STRS Ohio members can submit questions/comments through the Contact Us email form or by calling the Member Services Center toll-free at 888‑227‑7877, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.