Members of FCRSEA met Monday, September 10th, in Charleston. The two speakers were Jim Reynolds, Area 1 Director, and Jeff Stubblefield, Charleston Superintendent of Schools and sitting board member of ARTS. Both speakers were very informative and promoted two main points. First, it is important for local members of Arkansas Teacher Retirement Association to remain vigilant in their role as watchdogs of their retirement system. Next is the need to support the work of George Hopkins, Executive Director of Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, who has been under attack by certain state legislators.

According to Jeff Stubblefield, “ There are some think-tank groups, sponsored by charitable foundations, who are going to state legislators and essentially offering up differing viewpoints of public pensions within the state. These opinions are not consistent with our professional actuaries who monitor our retirement account”. According to the retirement system’s investment consultant the ARTS investments increased in value by $1.22 billion last fiscal year to reach $17.3 billion. The return on investments in fiscal year 2018 ranked ARTS among the top 1% of the nation’s public pension systems.

The legislators who are entertaining the negative reports from these performance review groups would like to see substantial changes to the retirement system. As members of the local association it is important to call or write your state legislators to encourage them to not entertain any changes to this viable system.

This sentiment was echoed by Jim Reynolds who also encouraged our local organization to recruit new members because, “There is strength in numbers”. He also encouraged us to speak against the practice of ‘out-sourcing school personnel’ as they would not be eligible to participate in the retirement benefits. He also made the point that a strong retirement system enables school districts to retain quality school personnel.

Other business accomplished during this meeting was, first, the collecting of donated school supplies to benefit the children of Maggie House and, second, the distribution of peppermints to all Franklin County school personnel as a “Welcome Back to School” gesture. Lunch was provided by Charleston Schools.

The next meeting of FCRSEA will be Monday, October 8 , at 10:00 AM. It will be held at the Arkansas Tech-Ozark Campus Student Center, Room 117A. It will provide an opportunity for members to meet our state legislators, Sarah Capp, Gary Stubblefield, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Bill Gossage.

By Gloria Jones