Ohio Lawmakers Study School Reform Bill to Clarify Pension Changes


Last week, Ohio lawmakers passed a major charter school reform bill; but the measure contains a pension provision that few seem to understand.

Now, lawmakers are reviewing the pension-related portion of the law to make sure it doesn’t allow all charter schools to exclude their teachers from the state pension system.

More from the Cleveland Plains Dealer:

Right now, the law change is only supposed to affect about 600 positions at 10 charter schools that belong to the National Heritage Academy chain. And the teachers there now that are already in the pension system will remain in it.

But a few questions remain.

Some legislators don’t believe the bill’s language is that limited and they worry that the change will also allow other charter schools to find a way to exclude themselves in the future to save themselves money.

State Rep. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican, said he and others will be studying the language sprung on the House just before voting on the charter schools bill to make sure that it doesn’t “open the floodgates.”

What does the law change do?

It blocks all new employees hired after July 1, 2016 at National Heritage Academies from joining STRS or SERS and includes them only in Social Security.

Treneff said that all employees that any of the 10 schools hire this year or who have been employed there are part of STRS – and will continue paying into both STRS/SERS and Social Security.

“There is no opt out,” Treneff said. “New people don’t have a chance to opt in. Current people don’t have a chance to opt out.”

OFT officials said last week that they read the law as applying to all new charter school hires at schools with a private operator. Ramos and Schuring said their review will make sure that the OFT’s worries are not the case.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has intimated he’ll sign the bill once the pension provision controversy is resolved.


Photo by Michael Vadon via Flickr CC License

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