Brown County Retired Teachers Association marks 50th anniversary

Nancy Byler
Brown County Retired Teachers Association
Brownwood Bulletin

The Brown County Retired Teachers Association (BCRTA) was organized on Oct. 12, 1970. The Charter Members of the group had a strong impact, not only on public school retirees, but also on our community.

Those six retirees were Blanche Eoff, John Gallaway, Zena Gallaway, Mary Michaels, Elizabeth Robertson and Blanche Shear Recognize any of those names? I do – Ms. Robertson, teacher in May, was not only my mother's first grade teacher, but also my sisters and mine...along with many other May Ex-Students.

Mary Michaels' legacy lives on by helping future educators today through the scholarship, set up in her name, and given each year through BCRTA. These special people had the foresight to know that, as public school retirees, we could accomplish great things by working together. It is up to us, current retirees, to continue to pave the way for future retirees of our great public education system.

Brown County Retired Teachers Association is the local unit of The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), the largest organization of its kind in the United States. The TRTA mission states: The Texas Retired Teachers Association advocates improved benefits for all public school retirees and promotes the well-being of its members.

BCRTA gives back to the community through volunteering, our Children's Book Project, and sharing with other organizations our time and dollars. Last year, BCRTA Members listed 73,323 hours of volunteerism, but we all know not everyone participated or turned in all their hours. Volunteer matching dollars are now $27.20. In actual dollars that would be worth $1,994,385.20 to our community. During the 2019-20 TRTA year, 550+ books were given to local schools and non-profits for use by the children of Brown County.

Currently there are approximately 977-plus retirees or their beneficiaries living in Brown County and drawing annuities of $22.8 million from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Think about what that contributes to our local economy.

BCRTA ended the fiscal year with just over 300 members Where are the other 660-plus? We need your number and your support and are asking every retiree in Brown County to seriously consider joining us in working to keep, and enhance, our benefits not only for us, but for those following behind us? Remember someone did it, so you could enjoy what you do today. Where would you be without your current TRS annuity or TRS care?

The 2021 Legislative Session is going to be different from anything we've seen before. None of those that have previously walked the halls for your benefit may be allowed in the capitol. To retain what we won with SB12 during the 2019 session, we need to make every legislator in Texas realize retired public educators do care what happens with our retirement and do vote.

Many of your fellow retirees usually spend time in Austin walking the halls lobbying for you and your benefits. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas cannot lobby for lower health care or for an increase in your annuity.

In 1995, then-Gov. George W. Bush, declared that unconstitutional, so TRTA stepped up to the plate and does lobby for all public school retirees which includes you. What do our legislators look at? Numbers!

How many retirees are we representing? How many are members of TRTA? How many people actually call/contact their representative over issues? Retirees, together we can make things happen in Austin. We have proof of our effectiveness with the passing of SB 12 in 2019.

Many do not know, but anyone supporting public education and public education retirees can become a member of TRTA and BCRTA. You will receive the same information as retirees, the same benefits, and have the satisfaction you are supporting a great organization.

Current Officers are: President, Mary Alice Reagan; First Vice President/Membership Chair -Nancy Byler; Second Vice President, Pat Krenek; Secretary, Jeannettee Chesser; Treasurer, Reta Bell.

BCRTA Membership Drive for 2020-2021 is currently under way! Due to COVID, we have chosen not to make face-to-face contact with many of our local businesses that continue to be yearly supporters, but we are asking for your continued support.

We would like to urge every retiree in Brown County to join our local and state organization. If you are already a member of the state organization, we urge you to join our local unit and help us carry on the work that began in Brown County in 1970.

State Dues $35; Local Dues $10, totaling $45, can be sent to: Reta Bell, 10610 CR 130, Brownwood, Texas 76801

For more information, call Nancy Byler at 325.642.9060.