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All non-teaching employees of Ohio’s boards of education, school districts, vocational and technical schools, community schools, community colleges, and the University of Akron are required to contribute to SERS unless their position permits exemption from membership, or optional membership, or is excluded from membership. 

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Once an employee is covered under SERS, the employee must continue to contribute to SERS for as long as the employee is employed in a SERS-covered position.

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Compulsory membership is required for any employee who:

  • Is employed in a position where the individual is not required to have a certificate or license issued by the Ohio Department of Education under Revised Code 3319.22 to 3319.31
  • Performs the duties of a treasurer, business manager, or community school fiscal agent
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  • Performs a service common to the normal daily operation of the educational unit, even though that person is employed and paid by a business that has contracted with the school to perform the service

“Service common to the normal daily operation” means:

  • Any service required to be provided by an educational unit or the provision of which is governed by law, statute, or rule
  • Any service necessary on a regular, continuous basis to the efficient operation of an educational unit
  • Any service that, through custom and usage, has become a service commonly provided or procured by an educational unit on a regular, continuous basis

Compulsory membership cannot be waived by an employee or the employer.

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Certain employees may choose exemption from membership. In these specific situations, it is up to the employee to decide if he or she wants to be exempted from membership or to contribute to SERS. Employees who may choose exemption by filing a written application within the first month of employment are:

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  • A student who is not already a SERS member at the time of employment, and who is employed by the school, college, or university in which the student is enrolled and regularlyattending classes
  • An emergency employee serving on a temporary basis in the event of a flood, fire, snow removal, earthquake, or other similar emergency
  • An individual employed in a program established under the federal Workforce Investment Act or any other federal job training program

A substitute employee is not classified as an “emergency employee” and cannot claim an exemption. There is no exemption from membership for retirees.

To be exempt from membership, the employee must complete a Request for Exemption from Membership Form (5.016) within the first month of employment and file it with the employer.

As the employer, it is important for you to retain this form.

If an individual contacts SERS to establish the service credit for this service, you are required to provide a copy of this form to SERS; otherwise, you could be required to submit the contributions for the time in question. This is the only document that is proof an employee is exempt from membership. Once signed, the exemption is irrevocable.

If the employee does not complete the form within the first month of employment, contributions to SERS are required beginning with the employee’s first date of service.

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A school board member or a governing board member has the option of contributing to SERS.

A school board member is an elected or appointed member of a city, local exempted village, or a joint vocational school district board of education. A governing board member is an elected or appointed member of an educational service center governing board.

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A board member choosing SERS membership must complete the New School or Governing Board Member Election for Membership to SERS Form (5.206) within 30 days of taking office.

Once the form is submitted, it is irrevocable for as long as the board member continuously holds office.

If the board member chooses SERS membership, the election form must be completed and submitted to SERS. Additionally, member enrollment also must be submitted to SERS.

A board member’s choice to join SERS may limit the ability to make tax-deferred contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The board member should consult a professional tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information.

A board member who does not choose membership in SERS must contribute to Social Security.

A board member who does not choose membership in SERS will not be able to purchase service credit for this school board service, unless the service was prior to July 1, 1991.

By law, governing authorities of community schools cannot belong to SERS.

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The following individuals are excluded from SERS membership:

  • An individual who has a license issued pursuant to sections 3319.22 to 3319.31 of the Revised Code and who is employed in an educational position, as determined by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), through programs under federal law and financed in whole or in part by federal funds but for which no licensure requirements for the position can bemade under the provisions of such federal law
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  • An individual who participates in an Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) established by a college or university
  • University of Akron police officers who are covered by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS)
  • Employees of community school operators who withhold Social Security taxes beginning with their first paycheck: whose initial employment with the community school operator is onor after July, 1, 2016, or; who previously worked for a  community school operator and returned to work for that same operator on or after July 1, 2016, and where the period between employment was not less than 12 months before or after the date the employer began withholding Social Security taxes for their wages
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