An image of the first MTRS registration book

The MTRS: A brief history

The MTRS, then known as the Teachers' Retirement Association, was established as part of Chapter 832 of the Acts of 1913, signed on June 19, 1913. The legislation had a tumultuous history: in 1911, a bill asking for enactment of a teachers' retirement system failed to pass the Legislature passed a resolve which asked the Board of Education to decide whether such a system would work. In response, the Board presented recommendations with Chapter 832, the bill that created the MTRB, effective July 1, 1914.

Over the past 100 years, the MTRS has seen economic depression and booms, two World Wars, and countless numbers of retirees and active members. The organization has had three names—Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement "Association," "Board," and, finally, "System" (though "Board" remains the term for the Board itself).
 



100 years of service: Milestones

1913
Chapter 832 of the Acts of 1913, which calls for the creation of the Teachers’ Retirement Association, is proposed. Though Governor Foss’s approval is unlikely (“Veto of School Teachers’ Retirement bill probable,” reports The Boston Globe), he signs the bill.

1914
The Teachers’ Retirement Association opens its doors on July 1. The agency is housed at 616 Somerset Street, a few blocks from the State House.

George F. Wilson, teacher in the Beverly and Wakefield school districts, retires as the first Teachers’ Retirement System retiree.

1916
Edmund S. Cogswell, the first Executive Secretary of The Teachers’ Retirement Association, retires. The Board appoints Clayton L. Lent, who holds the position for 44 years, the longest tenure of any Executive Secretary or Executive Director.

1931
The Teachers’ Retirement Association moves a few doors down to 20 Somerset Street.

1934
The agency moves again, this time to 100 Nashua Street, on a lot that now houses the Nashua Street Jail.

1945
The State Legislature passes Chapter 658, which creates a uniform retirement law for all public employees.

1950s
The office moves to 88 Broad Street, near Rowes Wharf.

1970s
The membership of the Teachers’ Retirement System doubles between 1958 and 1970, but the Commonwealth’s budget does not keep pace. The system struggles in this period. Because of budgetary and staffing constraints, bookkeeping and retirement processing suffers.

1975
Longtime MTRB staff member Mary Silva becomes Acting Secretary.

1977
New Executive Director Joel Goober works with Teachers’ Retirement Board Chairman John Kearney to improve the system.

1980s
The MTRB begins to turn around. By the start of the decade, some member records are computerized, some retirement functions are automated, and statements are on time.

After several more moves, the MTRB settles at One Ashburton Place, where it stays until 1995.

1984
Thomas Lussier becomes Executive Director. Lussier expands the MTRB’s mission to include education for members, a priority that remains in place today.

1988
The MTRB opens its first Western Regional Office, in Chicopee.

Due to an economic downturn, the Board’s budget is slashed by 15.5%, and staff is reduced by 35%. Governor Dukakis proposes eliminating the MTRB by incorporating it with other agencies.

1995
The MTRB moves to Canal Street.

2000
Our Western Regional Office moves to Springfield.

2001
"RetirementPlus," which provides an enhanced benefit after 30 years of service—and increases the contribution rate to 11%—takes effect.

2003
Joan Schloss becomes Executive Director and reaffirms the agency’s commitment to member education.

2006
The MTRB moves to its current Cambridge location and changes its name to the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System.

2007
MTRS membership surpasses the membership of the State Retirement System, and the MTRS becomes the largest of the Commonwealth's 105 retirement systems.

2011
Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2011, commonly known as “Pension Reform III,” is passed. Among many changes, the bill increases interest rates for certain types of service purchases, allows some retirees to receive credit for past maternity leaves, and, in order to ensure financial security of the system for future generations, creates a second Membership Tier that provides lesser benefits for new members.

2014
The MTRS celebrates its 100th anniversary.