COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The 11-member board of the State Teachers Retirement System is not confident in the pension fund’s leader.
In a split vote Thursday afternoon, the board rejected a motion to declare confidence in STRS Executive Director William Neville, who has presided over the $90 billion public teacher pension fund since June 2020. The final vote — five in favor, five against and one abstaining — fell short of the six votes needed to assert confidence in Neville.
“We have to have a change at the top,” said STRS board member Julie Sellers, who introduced the motion. “The problems that have been here have been here for years, and I just feel like we need to have a direction forward.”
Thursday’s vote came after a contentious few years between Ohio’s public school teachers and the pension fund’s management.
In June 2021, the Ohio Retired Teachers Association commissioned a forensic audit that found “serious deficiencies” in STRS’s finances, coupled with lavish bonuses for its investment staff while teachers’ cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, sat stagnant.
Ohio Auditor Keith Faber’s review of the pension fund in December 2022 found no evidence of illegality in the pension fund’s management, adding that its structure, environment and operations “are suitably designed and well-monitored.” However, Faber recommended STRS bolster its transparency.
At Thursday’s meeting, STRS board members Elizabeth Jones, Rudy Fichtenbaum, Steven Foreman, Julie Sellers and Wade Steen rejected the motion to declare confidence in Neville.
Chairwoman Carol Correthers, Vice Chairman Dale Price, board members Claudia Herrington and Arthur Lard, and Scott Hunt, on behalf of the state’s Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephanie Siddens, voted in favor of declaring confidence in Neville. Board member Alison Falls abstained from the vote.