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Robert's Rules of Order

Newport Elementary School Foundation

Basics of Robert’s Rules of Order

August 2009


Why Robert’s Rules of Order?

1.    Make meetings meaningful

2.    Parliamentary Procedure, the accepted rules and practices used by all types of groups

3.    Help group arrive at end by giving ‘due consideration’ to all points of view

4.    Does not give one side preference over the other


The Fundamentals

1.    Right to vote is limited to those members present at the time of the vote, non-members may not vote

2.    One motion may be considered at a time

3.    Majority rules, higher thresholds apply to change procedures, etc.

Amending By-Laws – topic for a future meeting or handled by By-Law Review Committee



1.    Terms

·        Meeting is official business gathering

·        Recess is short break during a meeting

·        Adjournment is conclusion of a meeting

·        Session is a meeting or series of meetings working completely through an agenda – i.e. if 2 meetings, the 2nd meeting would pick up where the 1st meeting left off

·        Special Meetings

·        Executive Session

2.    Must have a presiding officer (typically the president) and a recording secretary to have a meeting

3.    The Meeting Itself

·        Agenda – schedule of what is going to be discussed

·        Motions – Ideas for calls to action

·        Discussion – Debate, improvement of motions and voting

·        Adjournment – Meeting is over =)!

4.    How the Meeting Works

·        Quorum – for us, a majority of the Board of Directors

·        Address the Chair by Title

·        Wait to talk until you are recognized by the Chairperson

·        Order of Business

1.       Reading and approval of the minutes

2.       Officer and/or Committee reports

3.       Special orders – i.e. things like Officer Elections

4.       General Orders/Unfinished (Old) Business

5.       New Business/Announcements

6.       Exceptions are made to this order for guest speakers


Making a Motion and Calling NESF to Action


·        Main Motion – Call to Action

·        Subsidiary Motion – Do this with the Main Motion

·        Privileged Motion – Do this even though there is a pending main motion

·        Incidental Motion – Do this to better handle the main motion (“I move that we adopt the recommendation of the Hula Committee to have the event on New Year’s Day”)


·        Express an opinion

·        Authorize a purchase

·        Create a policy or rule (“I move we limit debate on this issue to no more than 10 minutes”)

·        Adopt a recommendation or report

·        Point of Order (“The vote we had last week was not consistent with our by-laws therefore my point of action is that the amendment is null and void.”)

How to Do

·        Must be made (“I move or propose that…”)

·        Seconded – you do not have agree with the motion to second it, you are just helping the debate begin

·        Restated by the Chair

·        THEN discussion may start (typically begun by the person making the motion to explain the rationale)

·        Members vote

·        Chair announces the result

Tips for Respecting Everyone’s Time and Ideas

·        Have your motion well thought out before the meeting and before you give it to the Board to consider

·        Write down (and distribute if possible) what you will be proposing

·        Brainstorming is great but needs to occur at our committee levels and outside of our business meetings

·        Motions can be amended and changed before we vote as noted above

·        Discussing a clearly thought out call to action keeps us on track

·        Procedural motions can be defined as undebatable and go straight to a vote

How Much Time You Actually Get

·        Outer limits on debate are each member gets to speak twice on each motion for 10 minutes

·        Not practical as meetings could actually last for hours

·        We can make a motion at the beginning of each of our meetings to limit debate to a pre-set time limit for that meeting or limit the amount of members that discuss a pro/con view for each motion (“I move that we limit the debate on any motions to 2 minutes per member, per speech”)

·        Everyone is able to speak once for a set amount of time and, if time allows, members can speak a second time if everyone who wanted to was able to speak a first time (a motion can be made to extend time – “I move that Carson’s time be extended 5 additional minutes”)

·        Time limits DO NOT APPLY to Committee Reports, Making and Debating Secondary Motions