July 24, 2014

TRS portfolio earns 22 percent, tops $14 billion
The Teachers Retirement System’s investments returned 22 percent in fiscal year 2014, the system’s board of trustees were told Wednesday, pushing its value above $14.0 billion for the first time. Gregory W. Group, the system’s investment consultant, reported the system achieved a 22.4 percent investment return. The consultant also reported the system finished FY20014 with it highest month-end and year-end portfolio balance even, more than $14.18 billion on June 30.

July 24, 2014

Outside group agrees with board decision to delay
Following the State Board of Education’s decision to delay approval of the new curriculum standards drafting process for a second month in a row, outside groups say the board may have made the right decision. Restore Oklahoma Public Education President Jenni White said Thursday the board may have made the right call. White agreed the process is unwieldy and despite agreeing with the department’s initial intent, she said there is a more efficient way to go about the drafting process, such as narrowing down committee membership or improving upon PASS standards. “I do think it’s prudent to move forward with the draft but I understand that the board was not comfortable with that decision,” she said. “I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

July 23, 2014

Mack to lead CareerTech as interim director
Following the announcement that Robert Sommers would retire from his position as executive director of CareerTech come August, members of the Board of CareerTech met in executive session Wednesday to appoint Dr. Marcy Mack as interim director. The board approved Sommers’ resignation before handing the reigns to his current chief of staff. During the meeting the board praised Sommers for his year of service in Oklahoma. Sommers, who also resigned from his position as Gov. Mary Fallin’s Secretary of Education and Workforce Development, said last week he will return to his home state of Ohio to be with family. Sommers served in both capacities for a little over a year.

July 23, 2014

Board of Education tables new standards creation d
After a little over an hour of discussion, members of the State Board of Education chose to table approval of the drafting timeline for the creation of new curriculum standards Wednesday that came after the lawmakers approved repealing Common Core. The draft, which was tabled during June’s board meeting due to pending litigation involving four of the six board members questioning the constitutionality of the bill, was tabled once again after members expressed concerns that the process was too lengthy and bureaucratic.

July 23, 2014

TRS trustees approve retired educators association
TRS trustees approve retired educators association rule The Teachers Retirement System Board of Trustees approved an emergency rule Wednesday that implements a new law adding a nonvoting member representing a statewide retired educators organization to the board. Wednesday’s action comes after the board adopted a similar rule in May, an Attorney General’s opinion and the passage of a bill requiring adding the nonvoting member. HB2740, by Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, and Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, adds a nonvoting member to the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement Board of Trustees who is a member of a statewide organization representing retired educators. Assistant Attorney General Julie Ezell, who serves as general counsel for the board, said the rule requires organizations wishing to have representation on the board to fill out an application and be certified by the board. The organization would then choose its representative on the board.

July 23, 2014

Earthquake insurance prevalence increases
The recent increase in earthquakes within the state has raised both awareness and the purchase of earthquake insurance, according to the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Kelly Collins, communications director with the Oklahoma Insurance Department, answered that very question. According to Collins, in 2011 only 3 percent of most insurance companies’ customers had earthquake insurance. That number has now tripled with an estimated 15 percent of customers holding such policies. This conclusion came from a survey done by Collins of the top five homeowners insurance companies in the state who make up 70 percent of the industry.