PTA Board Responsibilities

For many PTA volunteers, serving on the PTA board is “just another volunteer job.” But in reality, your PTA board is running a non-profit organization, and with that comes responsibilities. Part of those responsibilities will be spelled out in your PTA bylaws and standing rules. Board Sourceprovides many free resources to help your board understand its role and lead your PTA effectively.

As Board Source notes, a lack of understanding what is and is not part of a board’s essential roles can lead to problems such as micromanagement, rogue decision-making, lack of engagement, and more. That certainly aligns with much of Illinois PTA’s experience with local PTAs and Councils having problems, which most often tend to stem from failure to follow the bylaws, ethical issues, or financial mismanagement. Ensuring that your board understands their role can help avoid those problems.

Part of the training that National PTA new requires of state PTA boards covers the fundamental duties of all non-profit boards, and these duties apply to local PTAs as well. Those duties are:

  • Duty of Care:Each board member has a legal responsibility to participate actively in making decisions on behalf of the organization and to exercise his or her best judgment while doing so.
  • Duty of Loyalty:Each board member must put the interests of the organization before their personal and professional interests when acting on behalf of the organization in a decision-making capacity. The organization’s needs come first.
  • Duty of Obedience:Board members bear the legal responsibility of ensuring that the organization complies with the applicable federal, state, and local laws and adheres to its mission.

Beyond those three duties are some basic responsibilities. Board Source identified ten basic responsibilities, and while a few might not apply to a local PTA (who don’t, for example, have a chief executive), most of them can still guide your PTA board. Among them are:

  • Advocate for your mission and purposes.
  • Ensure effective planning.
  • Monitor and strengthen programs and services.
  • Ensure adequate financial resources.
  • Protect assets and provide financial oversight.
  • Build and sustain a competent board.
  • Ensure legal and ethical integrity.
  • Enhance the organization’s public standing.

For PTAs, your mission is clear: to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Many of the other points are covered in our free PTA training courses, and Illinois PTA strongly recommends that every PTA have board members sign an ethical conduct agreement (available in both English and Spanish in your Illinois PTA online Leadership Resourcesin the President folder).

By focusing your PTA on its mission and advocating for it, by emphasizing that your PTA is in fact a non-profit organization with legal duties and responsibilities, and by ensuring that your PTA board is trained and understands its roles as leaders, your PTA can be even more successful in doing great things for the kids at your school, in your district, and across Illinois and the nation.

What is Illinois PTA University?

The Illinois PTA University is an incentive program to encourage leadership development. The program is divided into three levels—Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, and Doctorate Degree. Each level recognizes the accomplishment of PTA members who have completed its requirements. Those requirements include attendance at a variety of workshops, training courses, and PTA events.  Any PTA member may participate in the program, and there is no time limit for completing the requirements to earn a degree.

Transcripts (applications) are available at all courses and events, and any state board member, district director, or course trainer may sign. Completed transcripts should be sent to your District or Region Director or to the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director. Doctoral recipients are recognized at the Illinois PTA Convention.

To earn the Bachelor’s Degree, participants must complete five requirements:

  • Take PTA 101: Your Road to Success (required for all officers)
  • Take Money Matters 101 (required for all treasurers)
  • Attend a Council, District, or Region meeting or workshop (this can be a training event where you take the above courses)
  • Attend an Illinois PTA state conference or workshop (not at the Illinois PTA Convention), such as an Illinois PTA Value of PTA event.
  • Attend the Illinois PTA Convention

To earn the Master’s Degree, participants must earn their Bachelor’s Degree and complete four out of five electives:

To earn the Doctorate Degree, participants must earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, complete the Illinois PTA Train the Trainers course, and complete a thesis project. The Train the Trainers course requires the recommendation of your District or Region Director or other Illinois PTA state board member to attend. The thesis project requires prior approval of the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director, and is an opportunity for the candidate to apply what they have learned from the rest of their Illinois PTA University work. Examples of thesis projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating an approved PTA training course
  • Creating an approved PTA program
  • Hosting a candidate’s forum
  • Organizing a Value of PTA event

Contact your Region Director, District Director, or the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director to schedule a course or visit the Illinois PTA website events page to see what courses are coming up.

6 Things to Wrap Up Your PTA Year

May is a busy month for PTAs with Teacher Appreciation Week, end of the school year activities, and electing new officers. As a PTA leader, you’re probably a bit worn out from everything your PTA has done this past year. But making sure your PTA is successful next year begins with wrapping up this year. Here are six important things to do before your PTA year ends.

  1. Register your new officers. Illinois PTA sends out a Local Unit Packet each year filled with resources to successfully run a PTA. However, that packet can’t be sent if Illinois PTA doesn’t know who the new officers are. Be sure to register your new local unit or council officers as soon as they are elected so they can get the materials and information they need. Even if you have the same officers as last year, you still need to register them to confirm their contact information.
  2. Prepare for your audit. Your bylaws spell out how your audit should be conducted. Remember, nobody authorized to sign checks can be on the audit committee, though it is helpful for the treasurer to be accessible to the committee when they are conducting the audit. Make sure the committee has all of the financial records, including treasurer’s reports, the checkbook register, the ledger (or spreadsheet or wherever you record income and expenses against your budget lines), deposit and expense vouchers, copies of meeting minutes, and last year’s audit report. Be sure to have the audit committee sign off on the audit report form.
  3. Thank your volunteers. Most people don’t volunteer for personal recognition, but recognizing and thanking them for their service keeps them coming back and encourages others to step up and start volunteering. Whether it is something simple like a small reception with punch and cookies or supporting the Illinois PTA Scholarship Fund with the purchase of a volunteer award, thanking your volunteers in a public way is essential to keeping your PTA running well.
  4. Make sure procedure books are up to date. A procedure book helps preserve your PTA’s knowledge and makes it easier for a new volunteer to get up to speed on their position. Make sure your officers and committee chairs have written up what they’ve done, how they did it, and what they would do differently the next time. Be sure to keep a copy in the president’s files in case a procedure book doesn’t return at the end of the year.
  5. Get your new officers (and anyone else) trained. Nobody would expect to walk into a new job, be shown to their office, and told, “Okay, there you go. Get started. Good luck!” It should be the same way with a volunteer job. Illinois PTA has several free training courses to help PTA leaders (and any interested PTA member) learn how to do their PTA job. Contact your district or region director or Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director Brenda Diehl to find out when training is scheduled in your area or to set up training. Be sure to take a look at National PTA’s E-learning Library of online courses, many of which are available in both English and Spanish.
  6. Pass on materials. It seems so obvious—you’re leaving a position, and you need to pass on all the materials to your successor. Yet this simple, common sense task fails to happen more often than you would guess. Far too often, district and region directors hear from new PTA officers that they didn’t get any materials to help them do their jobs. If you’re an outgoing president, make sure your officers and committee chairs are passing on their procedure books and other materials. If you’re an incoming president, keep in touch with both your new officers and chairs and the outgoing officers to make sure your board has the tools they need to be successful next year.

Photo © 2013 by Geneva Vanderzell under Creative Commons license.

Illinois PTA Launches PTA Essentials Video Series

illinoispta-logoIllinois PTA offers free training, both in person and online, but realizes that not everyone’s schedule aligns with training opportunities. Today, Illinois PTA launches its PTA Essentials video series with two financial help videos on its YouTube channel:

PTA Essentials is a series of short videos that provide critical information on running a PTA. They are not intended to replace the Illinois PTA’s PTA University training courses. These videos offer a quick refresher for those who have already taken training and cover the basics for those who may be just starting a position and haven’t had the opportunity to take training yet.

The first two videos focus on key financial issues for PTAs. Failing to complete an audit, mishandling PTA funds, and not using deposit and expense vouchers are three of the most common ways PTAs run into financial problems. Future videos in the series will cover topics such as:

  • Running a PTA Meeting
  • How to Update Your PTA’s Bylaws
  • Maintaining Good Standing
  • Creating and Using Procedure Books

Click the subscribe button on any video to ensure that you don’t miss these future videos from Illinois PTA.

In addition to the PTA Essentials video series, the Illinois PTA YouTube channel has a recording of the first 2016 Illinois PTA Advocacy Day webinar on Illinois PTA Legislative Priorities for those who were unable to attend. Illinois PTA has also fixed an error in the sign-up form for the webinar series, so if you were unable to sign up to attend the Legislative Priorities webinar or want to sign up for these future webinars:

  • How to Meet with Legislators (October 13, 7:30pm)
  • Advocate the PTA Way (October 27, 7:30pm)
  • Hot Topics Briefing (November 10, 7:30pm)

head over to the revised sign-up form now.