Friday, December 16, 2011

Changing Banks

We have our PTA bank account in a local branch of a national bank, and have used the same bank for many years.  Lately the bank has increased its fees significantly.  Can we change banks, and if so are there things we should watch out for.  

Of course you can change banks, but be sure to check your standing rules to see if they need to be changed first.  Sometimes a local unit or council’s standing rules will say something along the lines of “the PTA’s funds will be deposited in an account at such-and-such bank” and if that’s  the case they would need to be changed before actually opening a new account. 

Also, keep in mind that there are a number of different kinds of  financial institutions that offer the kinds of services that most PTAs need, so in addition to traditional banks you may want to look at credit unions, savings and loans or other kinds of financial services institutions.

Some things  to think about as you explore a new financial institution:  (1) safety (i.e. are your funds insured in case the financial institution encounters problems?); (2) services offered (i.e. will the institution provide duplicate bank statements, honor the PTA two-signature requirement, etc.); and (3) convenience (i.e. is it possible to make deposits and or engage in other transactions without having to travel long distances.)

More information about PTA accounts and money management in general is available in the Money Matters section of the Leadership Packet provided to your local unit at the beginning of the school year.  Money Matters is also available in the Leadership Resources section of the WSPTA website (password and user name provided in your Leadership Packets). 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Serving alcohol at PTA events off campus?

Our PTA is planning on holding a fund-raising auction in a non-school facility, where alcohol will be served.  We are using a caterer  who has the necessary liquor license.  It has been suggested that a school music group provide the background music during the ‘silent auction’ early in  the evening.  Is there a problem with school-aged children being present when liquor is being served?  Also what if parents want to bring their own children to the auction?

Before answering your question, let me suggest that you check with the Washington State Liquor Control Board To be sure that your event is  covered by the caterer’s liquor license, and with AIM to make sure your liability insurance will cover the event. 

As far as the student performing group, I’d check with the school and/or school district administration to make sure there are no policies limiting performances by such groups. 

Finally, while there certain kinds of establishments, such as bars and taverns, are prohibited from having children present, that prohibition does not apply to a private function such as this.  However the PTA may wish to consider whether it’s appropriate in all of the circumstances and adopt such a prohibition for this kind of event. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Can a PTA donate to the district levy campaign?

Our district will be conducting a levy election in the spring, and the committee that is campaigning for approval has asked our PTA for a contribution.  Is this something we can do without jeopardizing our tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3).

Yes, assuming that  the donation was included in the budget approved by the membership meeting, or is specifically approved at a general membership meeting.   Although PTAs that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code cannot become involved in elections for public office (such as school board, city council or the legislature), they can take positions on ballot propositions, such as levy and bond proposals, or even state-wide initiatives and referendum.  For a thorough discussion of the “dos” and “don’ts” in this area, check out this briefing paper under the advocacy tab of the WSPTA website.