Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sheryl Weber - STRS Ohio Retirement Board Meeting - September 19, 2019

My name is Sheryl Weber. I taught at Cambridge High School for 38 years. CHS is part of the Cambridge City School District in Cambridge Ohio located in Southeast Ohio.

For the last 12 years of my career I received $54,000.00 per year. That is correct. In my last 12 years I never received a raise. School funding in the state of Ohio remains unfair as the rich districts get richer and the poor districts get poorer. Teaching salaries in the state are also unfair, as they are dependent on their communities to vote to increase their taxes. I never really understood the significance of that discrepancy until near the end of my career. I absolutely loved teaching at Cambridge City Schools. Cambridge has not passed an operating levy since 1992. Their last 3 attempts in the past year have failed. This is a community with very little industry. The school system is the second leading employer in the community.

I retired two years ago. With STRS my annual salary is roughly $50,000 per year. My husband was also a teacher but had to go on disability retirement in 2004 after 24 years of service at Cambridge High School. My husband broke his neck while making a tackle playing high school football in 1974 which left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Instead of living off the system he went to college and got his degree. Kidney failure from years of complications as a result of the paralysis led to an eventual retirement and kidney transplant.

Last year our out of pocket medical expenses were $24,000. When I made the decision to become a teacher I knew that I would not get rich but I expected to be middle class.
My situation is not unique. There are many retired teachers from rural districts and small cities all over the state whose salaries are very low. My cousin who is employed by a district here in Columbus was making more after 7 years than I was at 35 years of service.

I am proposing that the Board reevaluate their decision and create a system that provides Cost of Living Adjustments for those retirees making less than $75,000. It would help those of us who dedicated our service to educating children in the poorer districts in the state an opportunity to receive appreciation for our willingness to work with those students who live in disadvantaged areas.

We are beginning to see the effects of never receiving a Cost of Living Adjustment. It is my sincere hope that the Board will re-evaluate your stance of no increases in COLA and come up with a system to help those of us who are struggling.