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04/14/2014 Executive Director Update: ATRS Board Sets 6% Interest for T-DROP in 2015!!!
GREAT NEWS: 6% INTEREST ON ALL T-DROP DEPOSITS IN 2015!

T-DROP and Post-10 Year T-DROP are already scheduled to receive 6% interest on June 30, 2014.

The ATRS Board this morning set the interest rate on T-DROP and Post-10 Year T-DROP at 6% interest for June 30, 2015!
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04/01/2014 Executive Director Update: ATRS Retirement & T-DROP Planner 2014
Spring is in the air and several ATRS members are ready to begin a new phase of life as a new retiree or a new T-DROP participant. ATRS had 2,930 new retirees and 656 new T-DROP participants in the 2013 fiscal year. If you are enter either group for 2014, then ATRS is here to help you through the process and make it as simple as possible. First, ATRS thanks you for your dedicated service to the schools of Arkansas! Now, ATRS is ready to give you information that may be helpful as you enter this special time in your life. ATRS also hopes that each ATRS employer will consider forwarding this Executive Director update to all of its employees in order to assist the employees in the retirement process.

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02/19/2014 Ex. Director Update: 2014 Strong Investment Returns
The ATRS Board of Trustees obtained great news about the investments the ATRS Board has made over the last several years.
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12/17/2013 Ex. Director Update: 2013 Actuarial Report
This is an executive director update that gives you the actuarial report on ATRS from the last fiscal year. The ATRS Board received the actuarial report and valuation on December 2, 2013, from the ATRS actuaries for the 2012-2013 fiscal year that ended June 30 , 2013.
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10/8/2013 Executive Director Update: New ATRS Trustee and Strong Returns Last Fiscal Year
ATRS welcomes Janet Watson to the ATRS Board! Janet Watson was appointed to ATRS Board Position #2 on October 7th. Ms. Watson is a teacher in Bryant School District. ATRS looks forward to the service of Janet Watson in this very important position. ATRS also thanks the other applicants for being willing to serve on the ATRS Board.

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07/26/2013 Position #2 Vacancy on the ATRS Board Applications Welcome
A vacancy will occur on the ATRS Board on August 1, 2013 The ATRS Board voted at its July 26, 2013 meeting to take applications from qualified members for appointment to fill the pending vacancy.

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06/06/2013 T-Drop Interest Rate Set at 6% for July 2014
I realized that I failed to provide more positive news for ATRS members and current T-DROP participants who will participate in T-DROP in the coming fiscal year. The ATRS Board adopted a Resolution setting the T-DROP interest rate for July 1, 2014, at the maximum 6% interest rate due to investment returns above 8% as of March 31, 2013. The Post-10 Year T-DROP interest rate was also set at 6% for July 1, 2014. Remember that T-DROP participants who submitted an application to retire out of T-DROP this year may cancel the retirement application and continue in T-DROP. I let the update on the T-DROP interest rate slip my mind in today's update; however, sometimes good news is better when separately received. I have attached the Resolutions that sets the interest rate at 6% for July 1, 2014.

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06/06/2013 Positive ATRS Board Comments, new ATRS Trends and other statistics
The ATRS Board sees the recent investment returns in this fiscal year as great news for ATRS and members. The ATRS Board met on Monday, June 3, 2013, and had numerous discussions about the latest session of the General Assembly and the ATRS Board's positive view and vision for the next few years. Part of the ATRS Board discussion at the close of the meeting was appreciation to the General Assembly for giving the Board all the necessary tools to address any future funding crisis or economic downturn in the investment markets. The markets have been a big positive for ATRS this fiscal year. The investment returns thus far, along with expected member-based actuarial gains, should eliminate any current need to use any of the cost saving measures that the General Assembly authorized the ATRS to implement on an as needed basis. All ATRS members with worries about member contribution increases or benefit cuts can breathe a sigh of relief. If you filed an application to retire due to such worries, then this update tells you how to cancel your retirement application through August 31!

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06/04/2013 ATRS Board Vacancy Notice Position #7: Applications Welcome
A vacancy will occur on the ATRS Board on August 31, 2013. The ATRS Board voted at its June 3, 2013 meeting to take applications from qualified members for appointment to fill the pending vacancy. The ATRS Board intends to fill the vacancy with an appointment through June 30, 2015. The Board instructed staff to provide notice to ATRS members of the Board's intent to fill this position by appointment until the next regular member election in the spring of 2015. The open position is Member Position #7 on the ATRS Board. This trustee shall be employed in a position not requiring state licensure. This position can be filled by any active/T-DROP classified member in the state. Positions that are eligible include but are not limited to: bookkeepers, custodial staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teacher's aides, maintenance staff, accounting staff, receptionists, and clerical staff.

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05/01/2013: Ex. Director Update: 2013 Retirement and T-DROP Planner with Session Overview
This is the annual T-DROP and Retirement Planner. It is also has an overview of the recent legislative
session. If you are a member of ATRS you can learn a lot from this latest planner edition. There is also
information that is helpful for retirees, T-DROP participants, contributory members, noncontributory
members, inactive vested members, and for future members. Please read about the quality benefits
and rights that you have as a member of ATRS. This should be a very positive and helpful planner
for all ATRS members! On behalf of the ATRS Board, I want to thank all 2013 retirees for your service
to education in Arkansas and wish you the best in retirement. Just as when you were an active member,
ATRS will be here to serve you. New retirees can enjoy the third R of the 3Rs of ATRS, the Reward for
a career in public education!



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04/25/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 14 - Final Report
The 89th General Assembly met from January 14, 2013, through April 23, 2013, for exactly 100 days. The ATRS Board had a 23 bill package that included its appropriation bill for the coming fiscal year. Of those 23 bills, 22 became a law. I have attached the final summary of bills that became Acts of Arkansas that affect ATRS. I have also attached a condensed version of the Acts affecting ATRS that is prepared internally by ATRS staff after every session.
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04/19/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 14 - The End Is Near!
ATRS ended up the session with 22 ATRS package bills and one appropriation bill for 23 total bills in this session. Of those 23 bills, 22 bills have or will become law by the end of next week. The General Assembly should end its actual work early next week and have an official ending of the session with a brief ceremonial sine die adjournment in about a month. ATRS staff is grateful to the General Assembly and Governor Beebe for all the support for the ATRS package bills in the 2013 session. Special thanks go to the Public Retirement Committee Co-Chairs, the members of the Public Retirement Committee, and all the sponsors of the ATRS package bills. ATRS now has the tools necessary to address any critical funding issue that may arise in the future. Market returns have been good this fiscal year and hopefully will remain strong despite occasional market fluctuations like this past week.
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04/11/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 13
Well the session is just about over. It has been a very busy legislative session for ATRS for sure. The last week has been very hectic. The session should come to an end next week for almost all purposes. At this time last week I told you that 17 of the 21 ATRS bills had become law, 2 were ready to become law, 1 was dead, and the other needed a House vote to become law. A lot can happen in a week. One of the ATRS shell bills was activated this week to make package bill number 22. At this time, 19 of the 22 package bills are law, the dead bill is still dead, the bill that only needed a House vote and Governor's Beebe's signature to become law has passed the House but is held in a procedural rule suspension in the House by House leadership, and the new package bill has been amended twice in two days, received a do pass as amended from the Public Retirement Committee and is scheduled to be voted on by the House as early as Friday. Now that is almost unprecedented speed for action on a bill.

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04/05/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 12
At this time, 17 of the 21 ATRS package bills are now law with 2 more package bills on Governor Beebe's desk. That means 19 of the 21 bills are either law or have passed both the House and Senate and only need a signature from Governor Beebe. That leaves only 2 package bills still in the legislative process. Of the 2 remaining bills, 1 has passed the Senate and is on the House Calendar awaiting a House vote. The last bill has died in the Public Retirement Committee and will not become an Act. SB162 is the bill that remains on the House Calendar for a final vote. HB1198 is the bill that has died in committee.
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03/28/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 11
It is hard to believe that week 11 of the 89th General Assembly is already in week 11! At this time, 9 of the 21 ATRS package bills are now law with 2 more package bills on Governor Beebe's desk. At this time, 7 more package bills have passed one chamber and are awaiting action in the other chamber. Unless opposition develops, those seven bills should be on Governor Beebe's desk sometime next week. That means 18 of the 21 package bills are either law or well into the approval process.
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03/21/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 10
The Public Retirement Committee is wrapping up work on the last seven ATRS package bills.  This bill update is being sent a day early due to meetings of the executive staff outside the office.  Fourteen of the 21 ATRS package bills have been passed out of the Retirement Committee.  It is likely the remaining seven bills will be taken up by the Public Retirement Committee on Monday.  Some ATRS members have had a mistaken belief that any bill that authorizes a contribution increase or benefit change will be automatically adopted at the greatest impact upon a member.  The impact will only occur if ATRS has a critical funding need, and even then, ONLY to the extent absolutely necessary!  Even after that, the bills allow any changes to be reversed back to the current condition as soon as funding improves.

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03/15/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 9
Six of the 21 ATRS package bills are now law. Two more package bills have passed one chamber and have no visible opposition in the second chamber. Unless opposition develops, those two bills should be on Governor Beebe's desk sometime next week. One more ATRS package bill had extensive support in the Public Retirement Committee this Monday, but was amended this week to address a small concern and is expected to have even more support with the member oriented amendment added.

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03/08/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 8
The General Assembly has started to build a lot more momentum on ATRS retirement legislation in week 8. Of the 6 ATRS retirement bills out of the Public Retirement Committee, 5 have been passed by both the Senate and House with one that has passed the Senate and is on the House calendar for Monday. One bill that had been held in the Senate at the request of a Senator is now on the Governor's desk. That bill, SB110, would give ATRS the discretion to waive a rule or law to prevent a terrible outcome to a member or employer that would result in a manifest injustice. It is always important that ATRS have processes to address operational fairness to members.

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03/01/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary Week 7
ATRS has no new acts this week from the ATRS package.  The ATRS benefit bills are complex but beginning to emerge from the study process with the ATRS actuary and the Committee's actuary. It looks like SB197 will be the only bill of ATRS ready for action on the Public Retirement Committee's agenda on Monday.  As of today, ATRS has additional six bills with one of the two actuarial reports needed to be placed on the active agenda of the Public Retirement Committee.  The Committee meeting on March 11 could have six to ten ATRS bills ready for action.  At this time, ATRS still has 16 of its 21 bills in Committee.

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02/22/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary for Week 6
ATRS has two new Acts this week from the ATRS package. This week 6 report has only modest news in the way of developments The major ATRS benefit bills are complex so most of the benefit bills are still in the study process with the ATRS actuary and the Committee's actuary. It looks like it may be at least another week before any major ATRS benefit bill is heard by the Public Retirement Committee. I expect ATRS may have up to five bills ready for action in Public Retirement Committee on Monday (as of 2 p.m. on Friday, it is looking more like two bills). That will still leave about 12 to 15 bills that are still in actuarial study. I do expect a lot of activity in the next three weeks as the longer studies are completed.

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02/15/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary for Week 5
If you are just looking for changes from last week in bills, you can open the attachment and look for blue and red additions. Most new commentary is in blue and new material changes are in red. The pace of retirement issues in the Public Retirement Committee is about to really speed up as cost and impact studies begin returning from the actuaries.

I have attached an updated bill summary for the 89th General Assembly regarding bills affecting ATRS through 1 pm on February 8, 2013. ATRS has 21 "package" bills and one appropriation bill for 22 ATRS supported bills. ATRS and the Board are very grateful to the sponsors who have helped with the ATRS bill package so far in this session. The bill summary also lists five shell bills that were introduced at the request of ATRS staff in case the need for a new bill becomes apparent since today is the last day to introduce retirement bills.
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02/08/2013: Executive Director Update: ATRS Bill Summary for Week 4
If you are just looking for changes from last week in bills, you can open the attachment and look for blue and red additions. Most new commentary is in blue and new material changes are in red. The pace of retirement issues in the Public Retirement Committee is about to really speed up as cost and impact studies begin returning from the actuaries.

I have attached an updated bill summary for the 89th General Assembly regarding bills affecting ATRS through 1 pm on February 8, 2013. ATRS has 21 "package" bills and one appropriation bill for 22 ATRS supported bills. ATRS and the Board are very grateful to the sponsors who have helped with the ATRS bill package so far in this session. The bill summary also lists five shell bills that were introduced at the request of ATRS staff in case the need for a new bill becomes apparent since today is the last day to introduce retirement bills.
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02/01/2013: Executive Director Update: Retirement Bill Summary February 1, 2013!
I have attached an updated bill summary for the 89th General Assembly regarding bills affecting ATRS through 1 pm on February 1, 2013. Today is the last day to introduce a retirement bill. ATRS has 21 "package" bills and one appropriation bill for 22 ATRS supported bills. All ATRS proposed bills have been introduced and have bill numbers. ATRS and the Board are very grateful to the sponsors who have helped with the ATRS bill package so far in this session. The bill summary also lists five shell bills that were introduced at the request of ATRS staff in case the need for a new bill becomes apparent since today is the last day to introduce retirement bills.
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01/25/2013: Executive Director Update: First Bill Summary for 2013 Session
All: I have attached the first bill summary for the 89th General Assembly regarding bills affecting ATRS. I expect it will have more detail on the summary as the session progresses. ATRS has 21 "package" bills and one appropriation bill for 22 ATRS supported bills. The bill summary also includes two member bills and four shell bills that could impact ATRS once enacting language is added. For members and others following recent executive director updates, there should be no surprises in the ATRS package.

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12/05/2012: Ex. Dir. Update: 2012 Actuarial Results & 2013 Legislative Prospective

If you receive this update and know ATRS members, please consider forwarding this email on to them.
ATRS received its actuarial valuation on December 3, 2012, from its actuaries. The results from the
actuaries are right on point with what the Board and staff have been expecting for several months.

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11/26/2012: Actuarial Status, Member Input Still Needed!
Members and Interested Parties:

ATRS ASKING FOR MORE MEMBER INPUT BEFORE THE DECEMBER 3RD ATRS BOARD MEETING

On November 16th, I sent out an executive director update, on behalf of the ATRS Board,  seeking input on the ATRS proposals on the table to make needed adjustments in the ATRS funding status due to a flat investment return in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Remember that ATRS can earn its way out of this situation with investment returns alone with a 17% return this year.  ATRS is prepared to act if investment returns are not enough.  ATRS still remains a strong 71% funded, but needs to begin to bring ATRS back to a 30 year amortization.  The request on November 16th for input was sent to all ATRS employers, interest groups for education, and over 3,600 people who are on a list to receive these updates.  ATRS has had only about 40 comments, suggestions, or questions. ATRS wants to hear the thoughts of more members.  More input is wanted by the ATRS Board before its meeting on December 3rd! You have this week to give input in time for the ATRS Board meeting Monday of next week!

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11/16/2012: ATRS Seeking Member Input Upon Cost Cutting Measures For 2013 Session
ATRS members and interested parties:

ATRS is preparing for the 2013 legislative session.  The ATRS Board is focused on bringing ATRS back to about a 30 year amortization to maintain the current financial strength of ATRS. This means that ATRS is looking at a whole group of potential adjustments in contributions and benefits to achieve that goal. ATRS was at about a 34 year amortization (unsmoothed numbers) on June 30, 2011.  The results in 2012 require some adjustment. If every quarter this fiscal year could be as good as the first quarter of the fiscal year, on an unsmoothed basis, ATRS will make up all the needed ground by investment returns alone.  However, the ATRS Board has to be prepared if the markets do not keep pace with the fiscal year's first quarter.

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08/22/2012: Back To School Special!, Benefits, New Trustee & Statistics
This is the first executive director update of the fiscal year. ATRS has now had time for the dust to settle on the previous fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2012, to provide some current information on ATRS benefits, retirement statistics, and other operational information. Very importantly, the ATRS Board of Trustees and ATRS staff welcome Kathy Clayton, a school teacher in the Malvern School District, as the newest ATRS Trustee. Ms. Clayton was appointed to the ATRS Board on August 6, 2012, in the certified position #4 on the ATRS Board.

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06/06/2012: Notice of Board Vacancy and Application Process
A vacancy will occur on the ATRS Board on July 1, 2012. The ATRS Board voted at its June 4, 2012 meeting to take applications from qualified members for appointment to fill the pending vacancy. The ATRS Board intends to fill the vacancy with an appointment through June 30, 2013. The Board instructed staff to provide notice to ATRS members of the Board's intent to fill this position by appointment until the next regular member election in the spring of 2013. The open position is Member Position #4 on the ATRS Board. This is a position for a certified member with five or more years of service. The member must be an active member and work at an employer that has its central business office in the 4th Congressional District. More details about the qualifications are included on the attachments to this Executive Director Update. The Board has set a deadline of July 16, 2012, for applications of qualified members to be submitted to ATRS. The ATRS Board intends to take up the appointment at its regular meeting on August 6, 2012.
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04/12/2012 Executive Director Update: ATRS Retirement Planner for July 2012
ATRS Retirement Planner for July 2012

If you are at the point in your educational career that you may consider retiring this year, this executive director update is intended to assist you as you wade through all the details that you need to consider. It also attempts to answer several questions that you may have. If you are an ATRS employer, this update is also intended to give some additional information to assist you in helping your employees as retirement season approaches. On behalf of the ATRS Board, I want to thank all 2012 retirees for your service to education in Arkansas and wish you the best in retirement. Just as when you were an active member, ATRS will be here to serve you.
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