STRS Coalition


     
  

September 8, 2015

ACCCA Legislative Alert—Ask Governor Brown to Sign AB 963!

Dear Colleagues,

ACCCA’s top legislative priority this year has been to secure the retirement of California Community College administrators whose eligibility in CalSTRS has come into question. Today we are happy to report the without a single “no” vote, AB 963 has been approved by the Legislature and is on its way to Governor Jerry Brown for his action!

It is now time to ask Governor Brown to sign AB 963!

To help show your support to positively resolve the CalSTRS membership issue for both individuals and community college districts, we are providing you with two letter templates:

  • The “Individual Letter to the Governor” is for those individuals who currently find themselves in limbo because of the CalSTRS classification issue—you are a CalSTRS member but your eligibility has come into question and you could not utilize the CalSTRS amnesty election period. YOU ARE THE DIRECT BENEFICIARIES OF THIS LEGISLATION—MAKE YOUR SUPPORT KNOWN!
     
  • The “District Letter to the Governor” is for community college district advocates who want to express the district’s support for AB 963. THOSE INDIVIDUALS AFFECTED BY AB 963 ARE YOUR COLLEAGUES AND SOMETIMES YOUR EMPLOYEES. WITHOUT THIS RESOLUTION, THEY WILL BE EJECTED FROM CALSTRS—THIS IS A COSTLY PROCESS FOR DISTRICTS!

Please note the highlighted areas for customization—please tailor it to yourself or your district and send copies to Governor Brown, Assembly Member Bonilla, and the individuals on the CC line of the letter:

Governor’s Office Fax: 916-558-3177
Assembly Member Bonilla Fax: 916-319-2114
ACCCA Office Fax: 916-443-1817

Thank you for all your work to get this issue resolved!


MEMBERSHIP ADVISORY:

In January the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA), and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), in conjunction with the organizations you see listed on the attached roster issued a Membership Advisory to K-12 and Community College administrators  entitled "Protect Your CalSTRS Service Credit.”

This advisory was drafted in order to inform administrators who may be impacted by two recent CalSTRS Employer Information Circulars. The first of those was issued on 8/29/2012 and focused on CalSTRS looking more closely at persons identified as educational administrators at community colleges.  In some cases, this led to rejection from STRS if the members were not performing what they felt was "creditable service."

The second circular was issued on 11/25/2013, and addressed a different, through related, issue and opened up a 180-day window in which some CalSTRS members were advised to submit a retroactive Election Form ES372 no later than May 23, 2014.

This retroactive election process was designed for STRS members who have moved from a position performing CalSTRS creditable service into a position that DOES NOT qualify as creditable service.  It is our understanding that CalSTRS will reject election forms from individuals who did not perform CalSTRS creditable service prior to 1995.  Individuals who established membership in CalSTRS prior to 1995 and have maintained membership since that time should file the election form.

The subsequent Advisory issued by the Coalition in January was designed to inform and assist persons in complying with the second CalSTRS circular regarding the window to file election forms, however, it has come to our attention that some clarification of that advisory is needed.  

Members of the Coalition want to stress that filing the election form within the 180 day window will only help those who are qualified to file it, i.e. persons who served in positions deemed creditable by STRS such as a faculty position, but now may not be doing so according to the current definition of creditable service now being articulated by STRS.

The question now becomes: What should individuals do if they are:

1. current members of CalSTRS

2. ARE serving in a position that CalSTRS is now identifying as INELIGIBLE for creditable service, and

3. have not before served in a creditable service role previously?


Those who have NEVER served in a position that would qualify for CalSTRS creditable service SHOULD NOT submit the election form now.  After due consideration, and consultation with human resource professionals throughout the state, it is our belief that the ES372 form should not be submitted by individuals listed in the August 29, 2012 circular who STRS feels are not serving in creditable positions, unless they previously performed creditable service. We believe that CalSTRS will deny those forms, and may take action against the member to remove them from CalSTRS.

Persons who previously performed creditable service (e.g. faculty members and instructional administrators) who are now performing service in position listed in the August 29, 2012 circular or other positions which may not be creditable service should work with their Human Resources office to complete the form.  Your Human Resource Office should consult with Legal Counsel as necessary to determine the correct procedure.

At this point, there are still many questions about which positions CalSTRS deems creditable.  Individuals who believe their positions are CalSTRS creditable and submit the ES372 form could find that CalSTRS in fact does not consider them to be eligible for membership.  Conversely, individuals who believe their positions are eligible and choose not to submit the ES372 form may later find that they are not eligible for CalSTRS membership. Every individual’s circumstances are different, and there are no clear answers at this point and so it is imperative that individuals thoughtfully and carefully decide how to proceed in their own best interest.

To clarify, no member organization of the Coalition is providing legal advice to any individual administrator on these issues. Administrators should consult with their Human Resources office and the college's legal counsel. They may also wish to consult personal legal counsel in this matter.

Work is ongoing with regard to this issue, and the Coalition is continuing to seek a legislative solution which we are hopeful will be reached soon.  We will continue to update the field on this situation as it progresses, however, if you do have questions, contact your own member organization from the list attached or the ACCCA office for clarification.

Informational Webinar:

A webinar to explain the above information in greater detail, as well as the current status of the ongoing effort to resolve the issue, will be held Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 10 a.m. and is being presented by Mary Dowell, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore.

Access the archive of the webinar hereProvide your name and email then follow the prompts to run the Blackboard program to view the webinar recording via CCC Confer.

View the PowerPoint slides (no audio) from the webinar here.
 

Supporting Documents & Resources:

Coalition Partners Roster

Memership Advisory

CalSTRS 8-29 Circular

CalSTRS 11-25 Circular

California Education Code Section 22119.5

Key Questions

STRS Coalition Meeting Record

CalSTRS Presents a Solution!

Alert to the Field - October 22, 2013

Sample Justification Letter

Election Form (ES 372)

Editorial: A $71 billion teacher pension liability won't shrink
 

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