Members of FCRSEA met Monday, October 8th, at the Ark. Tech-Ozark Campus Student Center. The three speakers were State Representative Sarah Capp, State Senator Gary Stubblefield and Bill Gossage, Deputy Chief of Staff of External Affairs to Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Bill Gossage gave a favorable report on the works of the Governor in several areas; robust economic growth in both jobs and wages, instituting computer coding in schools, and working to increase broadband coverage in less populated areas of Arkansas. He indicated that the School Safety Commission was doing good work, also. He said the Governor was working to make governing in Arkansas more efficient by consolidating agencies from 42 to 15 giving more access to leaders of state government. Mr. Gossage is a former educator and said, “It was the greatest joy of my life to be a teacher.”
Senator Gary Stubblefield spoke about a couple of issues he felt strongly about. One was his support of arming teachers at school, calling it a “very sad situation”. He also indicated he was a proponent of Issue One, which will be voted on this November. He said that the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System is the “envy of the country”, but indicated it is vulnerable to stock market fluctuations.
Sarah Capp, State Representative for District 82, spoke about a problem with teacher shortage in several areas such as art, chemistry, computer science, math and English. She also spoke to the requirements of applicants to replace George Hopkins, who is retiring as Executive Director of Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. She also stressed the fact that it is the job of the Legislators to exercise oversite into the retirement system, and that there are no plans to merge retirement systems or go to a 401K system.
The speakers then responded to questions from the audience. One concern voiced was in the area of mental health. It was acknowledged that there was no adequate facility to serve the problem, and most mental health problems ended up in jail. Another question voiced was a concern that elected board members of the Retirement System possibly being replaced by political appointees. Representative Capp acknowledged the Retirement System member’s faith in their elected board members.
The next meeting of the association will be held at the Mount Magazine Lodge Restaurant. The guest speaker will be Jonathan Wirgef who will give a State Park presentation. The meeting will be at 11:00 AM, and arrangements are available to carpool from Charleston, Ozark, and County Line School. Lunch is dutch treat.