Friday, May 31, 2013

National PTA Partners with Blackboard for TipTxt, a New School Safety Resource

National PTA is encouraging students and families to utilize a free new resource designed to stop one of the nation’s leading school safety problems – bullying, and issues that relate to bullying, such as abuse, self-esteem or confidence problems. Launched by Blackboard Inc., TipTxt is a two-way texting service that allows students to confidentially notify school officials of activity related to bullying or school safety. While schools will need to purchase a dedicated phone line for the service at a cost of $125 per year, Blackboard will absorb all other costs associated with implementing and managing TipTxt to all K-12 schools and districts in the country. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our School Pages Builds PTA Websites

Washington State PTA has recently partnered with Our School Pages, a provider of reasonably priced website solutions for PTAs. You can save time (and paper) by using your custom Our School Pages website for volunteer sign-ups, fundraising, event registration, orders, and payments.  In addition, a special feature for PTAs in our state allows parents to purchase their membership from your website, then you simply upload your membership data to the WSPTA membership database. That’s right, no more hand-typing all those names and addresses.  Find out more on our website.  Over 50 PTAs in our state use this website solution, which was developed by a PTA member who wanted to help his own PTA improve its website. For more information about Our School Pages and its pricing and services, go to

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Forest View Elementary PTA is Outstanding Local Unit of the Year

Forest View Elementary PTA in Everett is only 6 years old and they are this year’s Outstanding Local Unit of the Year. They will represent PTAs from Washington State at the National PTA Convention in Cincinnati next month.
“The Forest View Elementary PTA was lucky to have a really strong foundation laid for us by the original board of directors in 2007 that came from several different schools and PTAs,” said Forest View PTA president, Laura Peterson. “Working from that foundation and with their mentorship, we have continued to grow our membership and strengthen our programs each year through the help of our generous families and volunteers.”
Forest View PTA enjoys a good relationship with school staff and administration. Staff participation at their PTA events makes it even more enjoyable for the students. Some of their free events include a PTA-sponsored “back to school” carnival each year in September, a school-wide science day that includes a science based assembly for all the students and multiple paid and volunteer presenters for all the various grades, a family health and safety night that included local vendors, an international dessert night that included a Native American Potlatch ceremony and a buffet of international desserts donated by parents.

Nominating Committee Unable to Find a Vice President

We recently completed our Nominating Committee process and held elections, and unfortunately were unsuccessful in finding a Vice President.  Our past Vice President has said she is willing to continue to serve until we find someone, but we have been told that WSPTA Uniform Bylaws prohibit someone from holding an elected office for more than two terms.  What should we do?
You are correct that the WSPTA Uniform Bylaws prohibit the same person from serving more than two consecutive terms in the same position.  However, under Article 5, Section 6(c) it states that officers’ terms are for “one (1) year or until their successors are elected.”  This means that she can serve in this position until someone is elected to replace her.  Continue to hold elections at every General Membership meeting, and make sure your meeting announcements (along with your newsletters and other forms of communication) advertise that you are seeking someone and will be holding elections for this position.  Be sure to document in your minutes that the floor was open for nominations for the unfilled position.  Make your best effort to actively fill this position and keep the process as transparent as possible.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jeff Charbonneau Shares How Zillah High School Succeeds Despite Obstacles

Jeff Charbonneau, a teacher from Zillah High School and selected as the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, spoke at this year’s WSPTA Convention. Zillah High School is located in a rural agricultural community in Eastern Washington. They are a minority majority high school with 50% of their school population receiving free and reduced lunches. In terms of funding, Zillah ranks 9th from the bottom in dollars per student, yet Zillah High School has a 96% graduation rate. In fact, when students graduate from Zillah High School, they have almost earned an Associates of Arts degree, with 69 college credits currently available for students to earn on-site. Charbonneau shared with PTA members how their school is able to succeed, despite the obstacles they face.
“I teach students of all backgrounds to be successful no matter what the circumstance because that’s what I’ve been asked to do, he said. “We also work as a team--parents and educators--we are a unified voice for the children.”
Charbonneau has been instrumental in creating the STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) program at Zillah, and also spearheads the robotics program, but he explained that rather than teaching robotics, chemistry, physics or engineering, he really sees his job as teaching confidence, self-sufficiency, courage, legacy and citizenship.

A letter from Washington State PTA to Senate: Fund basic education before reducing revenue

A year and a half ago the Washington State Supreme Court clarified “paramount duty” as the state’s “first and highest priority.” That duty is to amply fund education for all children living in Washington.
Our courts concluded “ample” means “considerably more than just adequate or merely sufficient,” and the supreme court went on to rule that the state consistently falls short of even the lower bar. In its McCleary decision, the high court ruled the state must fully fund “basic education” with “stable and dependable state sources.”
Senate Bill 5939 is a revenue-reducing effort; its stated purpose is to provide tax relief to select individuals. It is a distraction from your first and highest priority and passage of it will hinder your ability to comply with the court and fund our schools, and more importantly fulfill your promises to over a million children.
Click here to read the rest of this letter.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gift Cards for Staff Appeciation

We were asked by staff appreciation co-chairs if they could give a $25 gift card to one person who did a lot for staff appreciation in addition to giving small gifts to two other people that helped. Can we do this?
In giving a gift card to a volunteer, that volunteer ceases to be a volunteer and instead becomes an employee.  The IRS views gift cards as a form of cash compensation, so we strongly suggest that PTAs do not give gift cards to volunteers.
Paying volunteers money, or anything of value that can reasonably be construed to be in exchange for their work, is confusing and potentially dangerous to your nonprofit corporation and even to the volunteers you're trying to reward. The basic source of the confusion and the danger is that the law draws sharp distinctions between employees and volunteers. The precise distinctions vary among jurisdictions, but the almost universal point of difference is that employees get paid for their work — volunteers do not. If you pay a volunteer for his or her work, you've transformed the former volunteer into an employee — or at least you've created a plausible basis for that person (or perhaps someone else) to claim he or she is an employee of your nonprofit corporation.
You may purchase “tokens of appreciation” for volunteers, provided the items are less than $9.70 in value because anything above that is considered inurement. If this isn’t in your budget, you would first need approval. Start by checking your standing rules to see if you can re-allocate funds for these types of circumstances.  Also check if you have a line item in your budget that could be used for volunteer appreciation.  Even if your standing rules state that the board can re-allocate funds, if there is no line item in the budget available for this, then you need to get the approval of your general membership.

Monday, May 20, 2013

National PTA Partners With Lysol for Healthy Habits Program

The Healthy Habits Program, a new educational program that teaches children the importance of healthy habits, such as hand washing and proper nutrition, begins on September 23 with the first ever Healthy Habits Week. LYSOL® has created a toolkit containing ready-to-use lesson plans, a parent activity calendar and materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to teach good hygiene practices, and more. The National Education Association (NEA) joins us in supporting the launch of this important program. This program will also feature the LYSOL® Healthy Habits Tour℠, a mobile science museum that will visit dozens of schools next fall.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Trevor Greene, National High School Principal of the Year, Delivers Keynote Presentation at Convention

Trevor Greene, the 2013 National High School Principal of the Year, and principal at Toppenish High School, spoke to PTA members at the Awards Breakfast at the WSPTA Convention.
Toppenish High School is located in Eastern Washington on the Yakima Indian Reservation. They serve 780 students, with an 85% Hispanic and 10% Indian population and 95% of the students receiving free and reduced lunches. Greene remarked on these challenges, “We accept who we are at Toppenish. We don’t worry about the ‘what if’s’. We deal with our reality,” he explained.
Greene believes that every student deserves an adult advocate at the school. A small group advisory period at Toppenish High allows teachers to establish a daily mentoring relationship with students during their four years of high school. “The students need us to help them, not rescue them, to help them navigate and reach their potential,” he explained.
One program that Greene highlighted in his presentation was their special education program. Toppenish High now has a daily PE class for their severe and profound special education population. “The adaptive physical education strengthens their muscles to achieve things they have never had to achieve before,” Greene said. “This gives students with high challenges and opportunities to change their lives.”
To view his presentation at the WSPTA Convention on YouTube, click here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Legislative Update

Still Asking: Make the hard choices. In this letter to legislators, PTA members share their stories (and budget lines) to remind Olympia: The quality of a comprehensive K-12 education can’t rest on inequitable and unstable local levies, private fund-raising, or grants for the select few. Please read, share and encourage members to contact their legislators.
·         Take Action: Stop delaying on basic education
News update: The state legislature ended its 2013 general session without an operations budget and without agreeing on key K-12 issues – such as how to fund and phase in the expanded program of basic education. Still no word on K-3 funding or when all kids will get access to the 24-credit diploma aligned with career and college expectations. A special session has started, but only a handful of leaders are engaged at this point. Most legislators are at home and would be happy to meet. You just need to ask.
·         Find your legislator
June deadlines for advocacy proposals:
  • Legislative proposals are due June 1
  • Resolutions proposals are due June 15
  • Proposals to amend WSPTA Legislative Principles are due June 15
Forms and information are posted on the website:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Convention Delegates Elect Officers, Make Decisions on Resolutions and Bylaw Amendments

Delegates at the WSPTA’s 100th Annual Convention elected the following WSPTA officers: President--Heather Gillette; Vice President--Barbara Martin; Secretary--Leanne Hawkins; Legislative Director--Sherry Krainick; Leadership Director--Dori Tate; and Membership Director--Caroline Brown. Also elected for the at-large members of the WSPTA Nominating Committee were Charlotte Kemble, Janine Kotan and Theresa Ramey. Congratulations and thank you for your willingness to serve this association.
Proposed bylaw amendments 1-4 and 6 were adopted as printed in the Voter’s Guide. Bylaw amendment 5 was not adopted.
With the exception of Proposed Resolution #14 (Tobacco Settlement Money), which delegates voted to send back to the Resolutions Committee, and amendments made to Proposed Resolution #27 (Equitable Educational Opportunities), the resolutions were adopted as proposed in the Voter’s Guide. The amendments to Proposed Bylaw Amendment #27 included inserting the words, “especially related to race, income and special needs” after the words, “...disparities for all subjects tested, at all grades” in the 1st Whereas statement, and inserting the words, “and social emotional learning” after the words “...math and science” in the 2nd bullet of the 4th Resolved statement. Proposed Resolution #27 was adopted as amended.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Recording of Votes in Minutes

The WSPTA Secretary guidelines provide for recording of a vote as passing or failing, but do not address the right of a board member who votes ‘no’ or abstains from the vote to have his or her name and vote recorded in the minutes if the board member requests it.  What is the state PTA’s position on this question? 
If a board member votes, the results of a vote on a motion should be recorded, but not how individual participants voted.  There are two exceptions.  If someone abstained, particularly if the abstention is because of a real or perceived conflict of interest, that person’s name and the fact that s/he abstained should be recorded.  The other exception is when someone feels strongly that his/her dissenting viewpoint should be reflected in the record, that individual should be offered the opportunity to submit a dissenting statement to be added to the minutes prior to the time they are submitted for approval

Membership Service Fees Collected for Following Year

If we do a membership drive for the 2013-2014 school year and collect dues for that now, how does that affect our account for this year? I was told that we have to “close out” the account with regards to money and dues this month.
That is a very good question! Please deposit the checks into your PTA’s bank account but earmark the money as being for the next membership year. It is best practices to have a carry forward line item in your budget which is designated for memberships you collect for the next year. At the end of your fiscal year, the money collected would be moved out of that carry forward line item into your Membership Income line item.
As far as entering the names of the members into our online membership portal, you will want to wait until after July 15th (after we have set up the database for the new year) to enter their names. You would then remit your total new year membership in your October 25th payment to State/Council.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Get smARTS for Arts Education Month

May is Arts Education Month in Washington state - a time to celebrate and strengthen arts education in our schools for all students. This month-long event recognizes the creative endeavors taking place in our schools and is a time to show the community how the arts are making a difference in education. This is why Washington State PTA, together with ArtsEd Washington, invite you to join in this statewide campaign celebrating arts learning in action.
A great place to start is with the smARTS for Students arts education guide for parents, families, and caregivers. If you haven’t yet had a chance to preview this valuable resource, Arts Education Month is a great time to plan to read the guide, share it, and tell us what you think.
Then get ready to jump into Arts Education Month activities! Here are three easy ways to get involved:
We also encourage you to reach out within your community and invite them to see first-hand how the arts are positively impacting schools and students – such as attending a student performance, art exhibit, or classroom presentation. To learn more about Arts Education Month, to access the Arts Education Month toolkit, and to find out how you can get involved visit

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-10, 2013

Consider all the things teachers do on a daily basis: plan curriculum, utilize varying teaching styles to reach all the children in the classroom, explain information (often repeatedly until all the students understand), assign and grade homework, deal with misbehavior, prepare and grade tests, meet with parents, problem solve to help kids reach their potential, reach out to families from all backgrounds and cultures, counsel kids when they are hurting, be a mentor and role model, prepare report cards, and continue their own education through classes and in-service trainings. Teachers are called to be patient, approachable, innovative, energetic and caring. They are the unsung heroes in our children’s lives. Teachers play an enormous difference in our children’s development and deserve to be recognized for their efforts.
Since 1984, National PTA has designated the first full week in May as PTA Teacher Appreciation Week, a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. You can plan to recognize the efforts of the teachers at your school during National PTA Teacher Appreciation Week on May 6-10. National PTA developed a toolkit of recognition resources including customizable certificates of appreciation, a social media avatar and badge, graphic for an e-card, a sample news release outlining ways to celebrate educators that can be customized for local unit outreach, web banner and print advertisement and more! They are available for public download at National PTA Thank A Teacher. In addition, the National PTA has launched a Pinterest account with five teacher-related pin boards! Have fun as you recognize and encourage these vital individuals in your school communities.