ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Alexandria hosted hundreds of former teachers from across the state this week. Not for any lectures or homework assignments, but for the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association's (LRTA) annual spring meeting.
"I loved it, I loved teaching," said Bertha Breland.
Breland spent her entire teaching career in Bogalusa before hanging up the "thinking hat" in 2000 and joining the LRTA.
"My husband retired about five years before I did, and became very active in retired teachers, and he just drew me right in," added Breland.
Nancy Quigley followed suit in 2007. She now uses the association as a chance to stay connected with other former educators.
"I enjoyed my teaching, loved my kids,” expressed Quigley. “But I have enjoyed every minute of my retirement."
While it was once their job to pick the brains of their students, on Wednesday we had one big question for them: What do retirees face in an age of uncertain budgeting?
What we got was conflicting responses.
"We just have to, like I said, stay vigil to what's going on,” said Breland. “But no, I don't think it's really harder on retirees. Maybe it's harder for teachers in the classroom. But if they're planning for their retirement, it's not so bad."
"Each year it seems we face something new in the legislature that might change the retirement system for those teachers that are retiring,” added Quigley. “And we don't want our retirement to change."
Dana Vicknair, Director of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), was there to break down some the changes in legislature.
"There's a lot of legislation that deals with the committee that oversees or approves the evaluation or contribution rate,” explained Vicknair.
She touched on changes that could affect the budget for retirees down the road, as well as lack of salary increases. She provided some advice moving forward.
"When you don't have salary increases, it could impact the retirement benefit,” said Vicknair. “And with the fact that you're not going to have automatic COLAs when you retire. These are some of the things they need to look at when they retire."
The former educators also addressed the want for retirees to get back in the work force, as well as an ever increasing number of retirees.
"I think our ranks are growing,” said Breland. “We have more retirees. We have a good many of our retirees living to be over 100."
But ultimately they said their goal as an association is to take these changes and find innovative ways to take care of their own.
"I’m going to work on membership,” said Quigley. “Membership is very important. We have to keep numbers. We have to grow in numbers."