Running a PTA

From Maryland PTA


Helpful information


Nuts and Bolts

Basic information for local PTAs to help them function more effectively:

Just starting out after getting a new executive board elected?  Read Tips for your PTA Leadership Transition

Glossary of Terms for Meetings

  • Open Meetings: PTA executive committee and general membership meetings are always open to everyone. A parent or teacher does not have to be a member to attend but only those who have paid membership dues may vote in elections, approve the budget, or approve a bylaws change. At executive board meetings, only members of the executive board may vote on issues. The date, time, and location of the meeting must be advertised in a timely manner.
  • Meeting Agenda: Copies of the agenda should be available at every meeting. It should include reports by the secretary, treasurer, delegate, president, and principal. Committee chairs may submit written reports or be included on the agenda. Any member may move to add to, take from, or change the order of the agenda.
  • Consent Calendar: The purpose of the consent calendar is to allow the group to transact business that will not generate discussion. For example, the approval of minutes, approval of nominations to vacant positions, etc. If a member would like to discuss an item on the consent calendar they would move to remove that item for the purpose of discussion under new business or table it for discussion at a later (unspecified) time.
  • Quorum: Check the PTA bylaws for the number of members (who have paid dues) required for a quorum. A quorum is needed to conduct PTA business, ie., elections, budgets, taking positions.

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Committee Plans and Budget Requests

  • The Chair of each standing committee should submit a plan of work and budget request to the Executive Board at the start of the year.  The plan of work should include a list of programs and activities that will be conducted by the committee for the year. The budget for the committee’s work and the plan of work must be approved by the Executive Board.

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  • An effective tool for keeping in touch with parents is a PTA newsletter. Newsletters should have articles that are brief and to the point. Readers will appreciate quality printing and a balanced layout. The content should involve the readers and be interesting and appropriate. A good newsletter will reflect the membership and its interests and concerns, with information that is valuable, concise and easy-to-follow.

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Telephone Trees

  • Telephone trees are a great means of communicating with parents. In elementary schools, ask "room parents" to contact the parents in their class. Many middle schools have Team Parents who could be involved in a telephone tree.  For a high school, request volunteers as "telephone callers" who can organize a telephone tree for school programs  and activities. Many schools have established "electronic mail lists" (through such services as Yahoo Groups) to reach a large group of parents with one email  message.

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Local PTA Meetings

  • 1st Tuesday: Elementary
  • 2nd Tuesday: Middle School
  • 3rd Tuesday: High School
  • An effort should be made to avoid scheduling other school activities or programs on "PTA Tuesday". Many parents have children at more than one level.

Stay On Course - Set an Agenda for PTA Meetings

  • Setting an agenda for PTA meetings and programs lets everyone know what to expect, helps keep everyone on task, and maintains order for everyone. The traditional agenda for a PTA meeting includes:
    • Call to Order: President calls the meeting to order.
    • Approval of the minutes: No corrections? They "stand approved" as read.
    • Treasurer’s Report: Written report is distributed
    • President’s Report: Information about meetings attended; recommendations that need Executive Board action
    • Committee Reports: Chairs requests time on agenda prior to the meeting
    • Ad Hoc Committee Reports: Progress reports or the final report; these committees cease to exist at the completion of their work.
    • Old/Unfinished Business: Minutes of the previous meeting will indicate any topics to discuss
    • New Business: A chair or member may bring forth new business after a motion is passed to allow discussion.
    • Principal’s Report: The location on the agenda may vary.
    • Program: The chair (or member) introduces the program. The location on the agenda may vary.
    • Announcements: The date of the next meeting and other important activities are announced.
    • Adjournment: No motion needed to adjourn. The president adjourns the meeting.

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The Problem Solver

The MCPS Ombudsman is a person who helps people solve their school-related problems on behalf of the Board of Education. You probably didn't know that this position has been around for over 25 years. If you already know what an "ombudsman" does, then don't read any further, but save the phone number, and share this information with the majority of folks who don't know about the Ombudsman. Roland Ikheloa is the MCPS Ombudsman. He can be reached by email, by phone, 301-540-7970, or Fax, 301-515-5757.

Basic Facts

  1. The Ombudsman reports to the Board of Education. However, she has access to MCPS staff and works closely with them.
  2. Everything you tell the Ombudsman is confidential. In fact, the Ombudsman won't do anything with the information you share unless you agree to a plan of action.
  3. The Ombudsman does not have the authority to order anyone to do anything.
  4. There is a brochure in each school that contains information about the Ombudsman. Ask your principal, or email or call the Ombudsman, and one will be sent in a variety of languages.
  5. Ombudsman is defined as "one who investigates complaints … that may be infringing on the rights of individuals and assists in fair settlements."

Before you call, it is always appropriate to try and settle the problem at the local school level first. Here are some examples of when to call the Ombudsman:

  1. Complaints involving an individual teacher or school: contact the principal and attempt to resolve the problem informally. If the problem cannot be handled informally at the school level, you can contact the Community Superintendent for your cluster or file a formal complaint
  2. Complaints involving personnel or issues in non-school departments or offices: contact the supervisor.
  3. Issues and problems involving Board of Education policies or administrative procedures: contact the appropriate office.

In all of these situations, if you are uncertain how to proceed, contact Roland Ikheloa. He can be reached by email, by phone, 301-540-7970, or Fax, 301-515-5757. If you call, a secretary answers the phone, and Mr. Ikheloa will either take the call or you have the option of leaving voice mail or a written message. Mr. Ikheloa tries to return all calls within 24 hours.

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PTAs and the Election Campaign

Notice(May, 2006): The IRS has recently updated their guidelines. Please refer to this update for the most accurate advice.

No matter how many "chickens are promised for every pot", PTAs may not support or oppose any candidate running for any elected public office. PTAs are 501(c)(3) organizations and there are certain regulation which govern nonprofits. As election campaigns gain momentum, we need to be reminded that lobbying by nonprofit organizations is entirely unlawful. Lobby, which are attempts to influence the outcome of legislation, is appropriate and permissible. Political activity which attempts to influence the outcome of an election is NOT permitted by a 501(c)(3).

It is proper for a PTA to inform candidates of a PTA position on issues and urge candidates to support the position if elected and to even go on record as pledging support. Getting issues into the campaign and discussed by candidates and the media often proves effective. However, it is NOT permissible for a PTA organization to distribute or publish a candidate’s statement to its membership.

A PTA organization may NOT participate in, or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of a candidate for public office. Working for a candidate may cause the PTA to lose its tax exempt status. If a candidate is invited to speak at a PTA event, all the candidates must be invited and given an equal opportunity to speak.

Fostering participation in the political process by conducting voter registration drives, in a nonpartisan manner, is permissible. It is advisable to provide all workers in such drives with proper training to ensure compliance with the law.

An organization cannot endorse, contribute to, work for, or otherwise support a candidate for public office. Individual members, officers (as long as there is not the perception by others that the officer is clearly "the PTA") may participate as private citizens provided that anything they do or say is as a private citizen.

Bottom Line:
• PTAs are encouraged to support or oppose LEGISLATION; PTAs may not support or oppose a candidate.

PTA members are encouraged to take an active role in political campaigns as PRIVATE CITIZENS, being careful not to leave the impression they are speaking on behalf of the PTA.

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Role of Cluster Coordinators

"The treasurer won’t submit a report!"

"Someone is protesting our elections!"

"The principal just quit!"

"The Executive Board all resigned!"

MCCPTA is the umbrella organization for PTAs and it is structured to provide support to locals in many ways. Cluster Coordinators are the liaisons for local PTAs to MCCPTA and MCPS. They advocate the position of the cluster or a school(s) to MCCPTA, MCPS staff, Board of Education, and the County Council. Most Cluster Coordinators are former PTA Presidents or have held an elected position on the executive board. Their experience and understanding of MCCPTA and the school system is a great resource for local PTAs.

Cluster Coordinators are responsible to the PTAs in a cluster and meet monthly to discuss issues relevant to each school, the cluster, MCCPTA, and MCPS. These meetings are a wonderful opportunity for local PTAs to network and problem solve. Cluster Coordinators help new schools organize a PTA, observe elections or other meetings, install PTA officers, and serve on advisory committees. PTA Presidents, other Executive Board members, or any parent can contact their Cluster Coordinator for information or advice.

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The PTA Audit

An audit involves an examination of financial transactions and the procedures used to conduct those transactions. Its purpose is to assure both the membership and the executive board that the funds of the PTA have been properly administered and that good financial practices have been followed.  See Treasurer's Tidbits.

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Depositing Funds

A primary duty of the treasurer is the timely depositing of PTA funds into the PTA’s bank account, and the proper and accurate recording of that deposit in the PTA’s books. All funds should be promptly deposited into a bank account in the name of the PTA, which has been approved by the PTA’s Executive Board. PTA funds must NEVER be deposited into the personal account of the treasurer (or anyone else), and the funds should NEVER be deposited into a school bank account.

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The primary focus of PTAs should be the PTA Objects, NOT fundraising. PTAs may raise funds to meet their budgets, but they should be certain that they are raising funds for appropriate PTA expenditures. Fundraising should be based on the goals that the PTA has set for any given year and controlled by the PTA itself. Be sure you are spending as much time lobbying your public officials to fund school supplies as you are spending time fundraising.

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Conduct a survey ask parents what they want or need to know about the school and their children’s education. Plan programs to address those concerns. Use resources available through MCPS or MCCPTA to help plan these programs or activities. Remember to offer translations for non-English speaking parents.

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Transition Tips

As the school year comes to an end, PTA leaders are busy with many activities and events.  Take time to look at the wonderful things your PTA has accomplished this year and express appreciation to those people who have worked for the PTA and children.
This list of important transition tasks will help assure smooth progress to get the PTA ready for next year.

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© 2006-2008 MCCPTA.  All rights reserved.  This page updated on February 17, 2009