Frequently Asked Questions
How do we know which officers our unit should have? What are their responsibilities?
Check your bylaws. Certain elected officers are essential: president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Your bylaws specify what their responsibilities are. You can refer to the National PTA Annual Resources for more guidance on what each officer is expected to do.
What is the officers’ term of office?
Check your bylaws for the length of the term and during which month that you need to conduct elections. The term will be one or two years.
What is the difference between the executive committee and executive board/board of directors?
The executive committee is composed of the elected officers of the PTA, the principal, or another administrator identified to represent the principal, and a member appointed to serve as parliamentarian.
The board of directors/executive board is composed of the elected officers, principal, chairs of standing committees, teacher representatives, and perhaps a student representative.
Can the principal be an officer?
Yes. However all officers have term limits and must be elected. It is suggested that the principal not be an officer so he/she will be able to continually serve on the executive committee/board and not be subject to election.
What is a Parliamentarian and what does she/he do?
The Parliamentarian is an individual whose primary duty is to advise the presiding officer on questions of parliamentary procedure. The president should appoint a parliamentarian. It is recommended that the president select someone knowledgeable about the association and familiar with rules of order. The parliamentarian should sit near the presiding officer for convenient consultation. The presiding officer may call on the parliamentarian at any time for advice. The parliamentarian does not speak unless given permission by the presiding officer.
When can a Parliamentarian vote?
The parliamentarian does not vote on any question except in the case of a ballot (written or paper) vote.
What types of meetings should our PTA have and how often should they each meet?
There are three types of meetings: executive committee, board of directors/executive board, and general PTA meetings. Your bylaws will specify the frequency of general PTA meetings, whereas the president and executive committee/board of directors will set their meeting schedules. The executive committee meets most frequently, often on a monthly basis.
Who schedules meetings for the local PTA? The executive committee/board of directors?
The president! However, consult with the principal, officers and board to identify mutually convenient dates and times for meetings.
How often should we meet?
The PTA's board or executive committee may meet as often as once a month. On the other hand, the entire PTA membership may only meet a few times a year, to elect officers or adopt the budget. Consult your bylaws to find out if there is a specified schedule. If not, determine what works best for your PTA. Meetings can be an efficient way to get the word out about what's going on in your unit and what issues you face. Meetings also provide opportunities for advocacy training, parent education, and family fun.
What is the difference between standing committees and special committees?
Standing committees are permanent committees created to perform continuing functions. Special committees are appointed or elected as the need arises to perform a specific task (i.e., nominating committee).
What committees should our PTA have?
Standing committee chairs necessary to carry out the work of PTA include membership, parent involvement, publicity/communications, budget and finance, legislative, newsletter, and Reflections. Other committees are determined by the needs and plans of the local unit. The names of committees may vary slightly from unit to unit.
Who selects the chairs of committees?
Chairpersons of committees are appointed by the president in consultation with the executive committee.
When should the transition of (current to the upcoming school year) officers begin?
Ideally, immediately after the new officers are elected. It may be necessary to schedule one or more meetings between the outgoing and incoming officers to turn over procedure handbooks, manuals and records, and discuss what worked and didn’t work. The outgoing team should share ideas for the future. Committee chairs should do the same.
What should we do if the outgoing officers aren’t cooperating or turning over the books?
It is unfortunate that occasionally outgoing officers may not be completely cooperative in the transfer of leadership. Request a meeting with the outgoing leaders. Work with the principal, council or region director to see if he or she can assist, and contact your council president for support. Be resourceful and quickly try to locate copies of as many of the records as you can. The important thing is to start setting your goals, make plans and prepare for the new school year.
What’s the difference between region, council and local unit PTAs?
A local unit is a self-governing PTA unit that plans programs and activities to meet the needs of children and their specific school community.
A council is a group of local unit PTAs organized by New Jersey for the purposes of training and coordination of the efforts of local PTAs. (You are part of the Monmouth County Council)
A region is a geographic division of the state PTA established for convenience in administering programs and projects, and providing representation on New Jersey PTA Board of Managers. New Jersey has six regions and you are part of Region 5.
What is the PTA logo and tagline?
National PTA adopted the tagline “everychild.onevoice.” to create a stronger unity among constituent PTA units nationwide. This tagline should be used by all PTAs as frequently as possible on all materials such as newsletters, flyers, programs, and correspondence. Refer to the National PTA website or Annual Resources for instructions on how to customize the logo for your local PTA. Contact New Jersey PTA office if you have difficulty customizing it for your unit.
What is a local unit (LU) identification number? How can I find out what our LU# is?
A LU# is assigned by National PTA when a unit is chartered. This number is used for record keeping purposes by New Jersey PTA and National PTA and is listed on address labels on correspondence from National PTA. This number also needs to be written on membership cards issued to your members. If you cannot find your LU# number, call the New Jersey PTA office.
What is a plan of work?
The plan of work lists the goals of your PTA and the expected means by which those goals will be reached. They include a calendar of activities, budget and membership plan. The plan of work guides the unit's activities for any given fiscal year. Committee chairs also prepare a plan of work for their committees, which must be approved by the Executive Committee.
How is a plan of work put together?
In the spring, over the summer or as school begins, survey members as to their perceptions of their children's and the school's most urgent needs and how the PTA can help them best meet those needs. Once identified, these needs should be grouped and prioritized. The highest priorities should guide you in setting the PTA goals for the year. Your goals will drive your projects, programs, meetings, and other activities, and will determine your calendar of activities. To make your plans a reality, estimate how much money your PTA will need to reach its goals. Working with these plans, identify sources of funds and create a budget.
What is a procedure book?
A procedure book is a set of materials reflecting the work of a particular office or committee. The book is compiled by each officer and committee chair for their own use during their terms and passed on to their successors. Procedure books contain records of events, programs, and projects, and include details of arrangements, evaluations of results, and lists of available resources. They are a good way for each officer and committee chair to build upon the success of his or her predecessor.
If someone sends in a letter of intent for elections what is the process by the nominating committee and president?
The letter of intent is to meet the bylaws requirement and alert the president and Nominating Committee chair that someone intends to run from the floor. The letter is not read as part of the Nominating Committee report. After the Nominating Committee report is given, the president asks for nominations from the floor for each office and then someone nominates the person from the floor. The president informs the membership that a letter of intent to run has been received in accordance with the bylaws.
Reflections is an arts recognition program of the National PTA that begins at the local unit level and progresses to the state PTA onto National PTA. Reflections provides children in preschool through grade 12 with an opportunity to express themselves in four areas: visual arts, musical composition, photography and literature. The Reflections theme is suggested by students in an annual theme search and changes each year.
How do I get ideas for programs and projects?
One of the advantages of PTA is the many “idea” resources that are available to your unit. Read past editions of National PTA’s Our Children magazine online on the National PTA website. Call your counil board and network with PTAs in your area. Attend New Jersey PTA Convention and Summer Leadership Trainings. The great thing about PTA is you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”
How do I make a motion?
Only current PTA members are qualified to make motions, discuss, and vote. Follow these eight easy steps and you will be right on target.
1. Obtain the floor. Member rises and addresses the chair. "Madam/Mister President."
2. Assign the floor. The chair recognizes the member by nodding or stating their name.
3. Make the motion. "I move that..."
4. The motion is seconded. "I second the motion." If there is no second after the chair asks for one, the chair says, "Motion fails for lack of a second."
5. Chair states the motion. "It has been moved and seconded that..."
6. Debate or discussion. "Is there any discussion?"
7. Vote. "All in favor say 'aye.’" "All those opposed say 'nay.’"
8. Chair announces result. "The 'ayes' have it and the motion is carried, and we will..." or "The 'nays' have it and the motion is lost.
What are bylaws?
The bylaws are your PTA’s most important document containing the specific rules for governing the organization. They are adopted and amended by a vote of your unit’s members at a general meeting. If you can’t find a copy of your unit’s bylaws, contact New Jersey PTA office. You need to have one on hand.
What's in the bylaws?
Bylaws contain the most important things you need to know: the name of the association; purpose of the organization; basic policies; qualifications for membership; rules for officers, executive board, meetings, committees, and running the PTA. If you cannot find an answer in your bylaws, you should refer to Roberts Rules of Order.
How are changes made in the bylaws?
To consider changes to the bylaws, a small committee should be appointed to study the proposed changes and to make recommendations to the board for their approval. Then, advance notice of the proposed changes must be given to all members. A bylaws change requires a two-thirds vote of the members present at the general meeting.
Who should have copies of the bylaws?
The entire Board of Directors should have a copy of your current bylaws.
What is a quorum and how do I know what our unit’s quorum is?
The quorum for your unit is set by your bylaws and is the minimum number of members who must be present to conduct business at a PTA or Board meeting. If a quorum is not met at a meeting, then a vote cannot be taken
Who can attend the New Jersey PTA Annual Convention in the fall of every year?
Any member is welcome to register. However, a local PTA is entitled to be represented at New Jersey PTA convention by its president, or alternate, and by one delegate for every twenty-five (25) members or major fraction thereof. Refer to your bylaws to determine how delegates are chosen. Outgoing and incoming officers, as well as school administrators, are encouraged to be part of this annual meeting by attending the general sessions, workshops, and celebratory events throughout the weekend. Registration forms are mailed to presidents and posted on the website by September.
What is Parent Involvement Week?
Parent Involvement week is a week designated to specifically celebrate parent and family involvement. Your PTA can plan activities that will encourage parents/families to come to school and be a part of the day with the students. Usually the Thursday of this week is put aside to encourage the involvement of fathers. Plan activities to encourage participation. Activities can include: Mom’s and Muffins, Dad’s and Doughnuts, Family Movie Night, Grand Parents Day, etc.
What is Reflections?