The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) hosted its 63rd annual convention this week in Houston at the Westin Galleria. More than 1,000 members convened to enjoy fellowship, receive vital training from state counterparts and conduct the business of the association.
One of many highlights of the three-day event, Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) stopped by during the convention Opening Ceremonies to discuss his bill, H.R. 711, with attendees. Brady was greeted with the voices of 1,000 public education retirees singing happy birthday to him before he spoke about his years-long journey trying to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). In a recent news article, Brady states that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the bill will pass this year. To learn more about the WEP and HR 711, visit this page.
The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF), the charitable arm of TRTA, made several important announcements during the convention, including the introduction of the Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund. The fund is being created to establish long-term earnings that will be dedicated for TRTF’s most recognizable program, “A Helping Hand.” The grant program provides emergency assistance for Texas public education retirees in critical need. To date, more than $83,000 has been given to 87 retirees.
Jamie Larson (left), Tim Lee (center) and Ronnie Jung (right)
discuss the value of the Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund.
Members donated more than $10,000 during the Foundation’s annual luncheon to the endowment fund. The goal of the endowment fund is to reach $2 million in donations by December 31, 2019. TRTF is asking all members of TRTA to consider making a one-time donation of $30 to help the fund reach its $2,000,000 goal. Donations may be made online here or via snail mail by sending a check to TRTF, Attn: Endowment Fund, 313 E. 12th Street Suite 220, Austin, TX 78701.
TRTF also announced the creation of a new “Beginning Teacher” Scholarship, which will benefit recent college graduates pursuing a career in education in Texas by helping them pay for certification tests and supplies to set up their first classroom. This year’s Classroom Assistance Grants for public school teachers and Student Scholarships for graduating high school seniors were also announced. Read about the recipients here.
The TRTA House of Delegates, retirees representing the organization’s 257 affiliated local units, conducted association business on April 12. Members elected the following individuals to serve as officers of the state organization for the 2016-2018 term: Nancy Byler, President; Patricia Macias, First Vice-President; Leroy DeHaven, Second Vice-President; and Marcy Cann, Secretary/Treasurer. Members also voted positively on several bylaws amendments, including one that will allow the state Historian to become a voting member of the TRTA Board of Directors.
North San Antonio RTA member Carlos Ortiz was honored during the TRTA Awards Banquet with the prestigious E.L. Galyean Award for his many years of service. Mr. Ortiz has served in many capacities at the local unit, district and state level, including as a member of the TRTA State Legislative Committee and TRTF Board of Trustees.
Carlos Ortiz receives his E.L. Galyean Award
from TRTA President Fran Plemmons.
District 14 won awards for the highest percentage of membership gain, as well as highest total membership gain. Hamilton County ARTSP won the local unit award for the highest percentage of membership gain, and Abilene RTA won the local unit award for the highest total membership gain.
TRTA President Fran Plemmons was also honored with a special gift as she completes her term leading the organization. Under her leadership, TRTA’s membership has grown to over 80,000. Fran also created the President’s Diamond Award, which was presented for this first time during this year’s convention. The $1,500 award was presented to the Goliad County RSP for their advances in membership growth utilizing the TRTA Diamond Plus program.
About 800 attendees enjoyed a Legislative Luncheon, with the opportunity to hear from Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Executive Director Brian Guthrie, and State Senators Joan Huffman y John Whitmire. The panel, led by TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee, enlightened the crowd about the problems plaguing the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program, potential solutions and state budget concerns.
TRTA appreciates the hard work of District 4 volunteers and the Leadership Training Committee members, all of whom worked non-stop to make the 63rd annual convention a great success!
Convention is a great platform for learning and growing as an organization. For local unit committee chairmen and members, be sure to check out all of the convention resource guides now available on the TRTA website!
Next year’s convention will be held in Austin, and will include a TRTA Day at the Capitol event. As Senator John Whitmire stated numerous times during the legislative luncheon, our members must be engaged! Mark your calendars now for March 27-29, 2017, and plan to be the loudest, most unified voice at the Texas Capitol during the 84th Legislative Session.