Four members of the Iberia Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) attended the state convention of the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association (LRTA) Oct.21 through 23 in Baton Rouge. IRTA received a Gold Award for participating in the Unit Excellence Challenge program.

“The two highlights of the conference were a panel by the Louisiana Public School Coalition and Ms. Vicnair’s Director’s report on the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana,” said James Broussard, president of the IRTA.

Broussard said there are six members in the the coalition including The Louisiana Retired Teachers Association, The Louisiana Association of Educators, The Louisiana Federation of Teachers, The Louisiana Association of Principals, The Louisiana Association of School Superintendents and The Louisiana School Board Association.

“By joining forces the group represents several thousand more people than an individual group would,” Broussard said. “This improves education’s clout with state leaders. Common concerns have created a joint approach to education instead of concentrating on differences or go-alone approaches. Success this year predicts similar results for the future.”

Dana Vicnair, TRSL director, reported on the retirement system’s status. State and local numbers are as follows.

• 85,998 active teachers

• 79,647 receiving benefits

• 2,462 DROP participants

• $2.2 billion paid in state-wide benefits

• $29,483,122 paid to 1,193 Iberia Parish residents

• $21.7 billion in assets

• 6.16 percent rate of return on investments in 2018

• 8.2 percent rate of return is a 30 year average

• 67.1 percent funded, up from 54.4 percent in 2010

Broussard said the COLA possibilities are slim in the immediate future because of meager funds into the Experience Account from which COLAs are paid after the $200 million paid annually from fund earnings on the Unfunded Accumulated Liability and lower earnings on investments.

“Efforts to change our retirement program into a hybrid plan in which new people could go into a 401k-type program rather than our current defined benefits program, were defeated in the 2019 Spring Legislative session,” he said. “Members are strongly encouraged to oppose any hybrid retirement plans. They would hurt the system and provide less services to the individual.”

He said the group also opposed is a Constitutional Convention that would have education and retirement in the call. Both could suffer major setbacks from the predicted right-wing conservatives named to populate such a convention, he said. Tools already exist for reform. Use them, he said.

“IRTA has nearly a hundred dues-paying members out of over a thousand retired teachers living in Iberia Parish,” Broussard said. “Two hundred and seventy Iberia-residing retired teachers are current in their dues to the state organization making them eligible for all services LRTA provides, including mail outs and internet communications.”

IRTA will meet Thursday at the new Belle Place Elementary School. Email and regular mail invitations have been sent out but anyone not receiving an invite and wanting to attend should contact Jame R. Broussard at 3519-4120 or jrbftv@cox.net. A RSVP is necessary so enough meals are prepared.

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