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  • STRS Ohio Watchdogs

Who should I vote for?

The election for one contributing (active) seat on the STRS Ohio Board has begun.

We've received many messages from active teachers asking us who they should vote for.

We endorse Michelle Flanigan for the STRS Ohio Retirement Board.

Michelle has also been endorsed by:

  • Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT)

  • Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors (OH AAUP)

  • Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association (ORTA)

  • Ohio STRS Member Only Forum (MOF)

STRS Ohio sent a questionaire to the candidates to collect information for the ballots.

Here are Michelle's answers.

1. Michelle Flanigan

(We have removed Michelle's personal contact information.)

2. Member of STRS Ohio since 1998

3. I have been employed as a social studies teacher at Brunswick City Schools for the past 25 years (1998-present). I have taught a variety of courses, including Advanced Placement Macroeconomics and US/World History. I currently teach Advanced Placement Government as well as US Government, Economics and Financial Literacy.

4. I was previously employed at American Greetings Corporation for ten years (1988 – 1998). While at American Greetings I worked as a forecast and financial analyst, developing financial forecasts, budgets, and analyzing the financial implications of business decisions.

5. Past Offices: Union representative, department chair, member of the district peer assistance and review panel, member of the district professional development committee.

6. Significant Accomplishments: I have earned endorsements from the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, Ohio Retirement for Teachers, STRS Member Only Forum and STRS Watchdogs. Politically, I have had success advocating for teachers. For example, after multiple conversations with Ohio Senator Vance’s Chief of Staff, I secured Senator Vance’s co-sponsorship of Senator Sherrod Brown’s Bill 597. If passed, S.B. 597 will bring increased social security benefits to Ohio teachers.

7. I have never been convicted of a felony or any of the offenses set forth in ORC 3307.061.

8. I want to be a member of the STRS Board because I believe Ohio teachers deserve what they were promised. I have watched my active teacher colleagues struggle to get to 35 years of service for full retirement benefits. I have watched my retired colleagues struggle without inflation protection.

The global financial crisis of 2008 precipitated pension reform at STRS. But while other states and plans have recovered and restored benefits, STRS has not. Hard working teachers made financial decisions for their future based on promises that have not been honored. Now, in 2024, I believe that promised benefits can begin to be restored without jeopardizing the safety of the fund.

My background in education and finance puts me in a unique position to serve my fellow teachers as a true fiduciary on the STRS board. I have dedicated myself to learning about STRS and educating my colleagues about their pension. I have developed meaningful comparisons between STRS and other state retirement systems. I want to be an STRS board member because I am deeply committed to the cause of helping Ohio teachers obtain the benefits they earned and the financial future they deserve.

9. The role of a state teacher retirement board member is to act as a fiduciary and represent the best interests of the members. This involves asking questions of the STRS staff and ensuring that all efforts are dedicated toward member benefits. The board members are the trustees of the funds of the STRS system, which belong to the members.

The board needs to ensure that STRS investment staff are pursuing the best possible, lowest cost options that will enable the safe restoration of promised benefits. Likewise, board members need to make sure that they understand actuarial assumptions and how these assumptions affect the valuation of the plan assets and liabilities. It is up to the board, as the voice of the members, to ask the actuaries to investigate all possible options to safely restore member benefits.

Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the board to investigate successful pension plans and make recommendations based on what they learn from other plans. Finally, the board needs to stay abreast of the state political environment and ensure that STRS’ lobbying is directed at legislation that impacts teacher retirement benefits.

10. I would prioritize key issues that the State Teachers Retirement Board should focus on as follows:

  1. Move the requirement for full retirement as close to 30 years as possible. Move to less harsh penalties for those who wish to retire early. These were the promises made to teachers hired prior to 2012 and they should be honored. In addition, decrease the 65 years of age requirement for those teachers who attain full benefits by age rather than years of service, as many of these teachers struggle with the high energy requirements of teaching in their mid-sixties.

  2. Restore inflation protection for teachers upon retirement. The inflationary environment of the recent past has been devastating to those trying to manage their budgets while their purchasing power deteriorated. Teachers were promised inflation protection, and this promise should be honored.

  3. Reduce unnecessary expenses that are not focused on providing teacher benefits. Long term reduction of operating expenses can generate significant savings that can be used toward restoring teacher benefits.



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