Friday, February 22, 2013

What are the requirements for officer training for PTAs to be in good standing?

What are the requirements for officer training for PTAs to be in good standing?
During the 2011 Washington State PTA Convention, a new bylaw was approved by delegates requiring that all executive committee members of a local unit or council receive yearly state-PTA-approved training in order to remain in good standing.* The amendment also required at least one member of the local unit’s executive committee to attend a PTA & the Law class.
Classes (including the PTA and the Law class) offered at this year’s WSPTA Convention provide an opportunity to fulfill your PTA’s bylaw requirement of obtaining PTA leadership training for the 2013-14 year.  Registration information for the Convention will be available on the WSPTA website soon.
*A unit in “good standing” is defined in the WSPTA Uniform Bylaws Article 5 Section 2(a) for local units and Article 6 Section 2(a) for councils.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Make the Membership Pitch Relevant to Males

The number one reason men join PTA is "to work to improve the school for the benefit of my child/children." Therefore, explain how a father's involvement in PTA shows added interest in his child's education and school activities, provides greater support for his child's teachers and school and improves relationships between parents and school personnel. Use specific messaging and advertising aimed at men. Be sure to show men's involvement in your PTA in your communications to members and potential members.
Ask the women in your PTA to invite the men in their children's lives to join PTA. Moms can (and should) influence dads to join PTA! Create more volunteer opportunities and special events for dads. Events aimed at fathers can raise awareness that other fathers are actively involved. When men see that other men are involved, they are more likely to join. Emphasize that becoming a PTA member doesn't necessarily involve a large time commitment. Communicate with men the way they want to be reached. Men want fewer meetings, and at more convenient times, and they want meetings to have a clear agenda and be results-oriented. Brief communications tend to make men pay more attention to the message or issue at hand—and more likely to participate.
Seek male members in the community. Present the PTA message at local service clubs that have a large male contingent, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, or Lions clubs. If men see that other club members support the work of PTA, they might be more likely to join. Recognize and celebrate members. Reinforcing men's contributions, while being mindful of what all members do for PTA, creates a positive atmosphere.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Call to Action! Share the smARTS For Students Arts Education Guide

ArtsEd Washington and State PTA have just released smARTS for Students, a new arts education advocacy tool. We need your help: please help spread the word about this guide with the parents and families in your community!  Simply insert the text below into your school newsletter, arts newsletter, with your PTA, or post to your website or Facebook page, customizing with the name of your school.  Thank you for helping to share this tool far and wide!
Cut and paste the following to share in your PTA newsletter:
ArtsEd Washington and the Washington State PTA are thrilled to announce that the highly anticipated smARTS for Students: An Arts Education Guide for Parents & Families is NOW available! smARTS for Students is the first advocacy tool of its kind in Washington state, and is designed for parents and families who want to improve their child’s education by increasing the provision of the arts in their school.  There are steps each of us can take to strengthen and sustain robust arts programs at our school and for all kids in our district. Here are three simple ways you can get involved and help make an impact immediately:
·       Read or download the guide at
·       Give your thoughts about the guide in the survey. (Please share your feedback- it is VERY important!)
·       SHARE the smARTS for Students guide with your circle of friends, family, and arts education advocates via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Membership in Multiple PTAs

A number of our PTSA members have children in both elementary and middle school.  If they join the elementary PTSA, are they eligible to vote at the middle school PTSA meetings?  In other words, is the PTA membership valid at both organizations? 
No, unless an individual is a member of that particular PTA, the individual does not have the right to vote.  Joining the elementary school PTA doesn’t allow an individual the right to vote at the middle school PTSA meeting.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrate Valentine's Day by Reaching Out and Recruiting New Members

Recruiting new members is a great way to show how much your PTA loves parents, teachers and the community – plus, your PTA can qualify for great prizes by meeting the Lucky 13 in 2013 membership award.
Amplify your mid-year membership recruitment efforts with these ideas to show how much your PTA loves new members:
·       Each time a new member joins, write their name on a large heart and post somewhere on your school campus. (Principal approval required.)
·       Work with teachers to have students create valentines to send home with a special note to join PTA.
·       Make a list of 13 community members who have not yet joined your PTA and extend a special heart-shaped invitation to them.
·       Offer incentives such as a school parking spot or go-to-lunch-early passes to the student who brings in the 13th membership envelope.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Endorsing Bonds in Elections

Our school district is going to be having a bond election in February.  At our last general membership meeting, our PTA membership voted to endorse the bond.  Is this something that we can publish in our PTA newsletter?
With respect to bond and levy elections, PTAs can support or oppose ballot propositions (as opposed to candidates*).
If your PTA uses “kidmail” or sends its newsletters home with the students or uses the school website to make its newsletter available to parents, then your newsletters are limited to publishing factual information that does not imply opinion or ask voters to vote one way or another.  For example, you can say “don’t forget to vote on February 12”, but you can’t say “please vote yes (or no) on February 12”.
If your PTA mails its newsletters, remember that supporting or opposing ballot propositions constitutes lobbying and as a 501(c)(3) organization your PTA can only devote an insubstantial part of your resources to such activities.
*WSPTA Uniform Bylaws prohibit the PTA from supporting candidates for public office. As always, if you have questions regarding this or any other PTA-related topic, please contact the WSPTA office.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Donating Funds to Other PTAs

Our PTA is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  We are very fortunate in that our fundraising has been so successful that we have more funds on hand than we need to operate the programs we have planned. Because we know that not every PTA is as fortunate, some members have suggested that we donate some of our funds to PTAs in other parts of our district that don’t have the same fundraising capacity that we do.  Is that something that PTAs can do, and if so, are there any steps that we would need to take before doing so? 
This is one of those seemingly simple questions for which, unfortunately, there is not a simple answer. 
First, consider the question from the perspective of the Bylaws. If the donation is in the budget that was approved by the members, or if the Board or Executive Committee has discretion under your PTA’s standing rules to make disbursements not authorized in the budget, then making a donation to another PTA would be consistent with the Bylaws.  If the donation is not in the budget or not otherwise authorized, you would need to have the budget amended at a general membership meeting before proceeding. 
However, the answer doesn’t end.  You also need to review the application that your PTA completed when it applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax exempt status.  Because your PTA is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3), the form that you completed is called the IRS 1023 (it’s an IRS 1024 for PTAs that are tax exempt under Section  501(c)(4)). The application sets forth the activities that your PTA told the IRS it would engage in, and the grant of tax exempt status is limited to those activities. Many PTAs’ 1023 speak to operating programs for the benefits of the students at XYZ school (i.e. the school with which the PTA is associated). If that’s the case with your PTA’s 1023, you would need to let the IRS know that your PTA’s scope of activities has expanded to include benefiting other students in your district or community.  To do this you only need to submit a letter to the IRS when you file your next tax return (990 or 990EZ) explaining that your activities have expanded.
Finally, if the PTA (or for that matter any other organization) is not tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3), then you should place a condition on the donation that the funds can only be used for a tax exempt purpose.  Otherwise, your PTA could be considered to be diverting tax exempt funds for a purpose that wouldn’t qualify for tax exempt status.