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Job Description for Communications

Download the Communications Job Description

The PTA communications leader helps PTA members and the general public understand that PTA:

  • Positively impacts the lives of all children and families; and
  • Is a relevant, inclusive, influential volunteer-powered association working for the well-being of children and youth.

Obtain (from predecessor) and study the procedure book and other materials related to performing the duties of communications leader:

  • Print publications: past issues, deadline schedules, duplicating process and mailing permit information, templates.
  • Electronic communications: email account names and passwords, web hosting information, domain name information, social media usernames, logins and passwords, webmaster contact information.
  • Calendar of events and contact information for PTA officers and chairmen.
  • Budget
  • Names and contact information for local media contacts.

Download or obtain the Communications section of the California State PTA Toolkit to learn the basics of PTA communications, responsibilities, publications and available resources.  See PTA Style Guide.

Subscribe to California State PTA’s and National PTA’s print and electronic publications and communications.

Meet with communication board members (newsletter editor, social media chairman, website manager, etc.) before the beginning of the school year to develop a communications plan. Work closely with the school principal and the unit president.

Attend communications-related workshops and trainings.

DEVELOPING A COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

Develop a communications plan by first establishing your PTA’s communication objectives.  Solicit feedback to verify that current communications are meeting member needs. Determine:

  • Who is the target audience? Consider who you want to reach.
  • What are the right communications tools? Determine the best way to reach your audience.
  • What is the right message for each tool? Think through what needs to be said and how and where to say it. Be concise and to the point.

Consider using:

  • Newsletters (digital or print)
  • Website
  • Emails
  • Mobile
  • Social media
  • Video
  • Fliers
  • Banners
  • Word of mouth

Review PTA calendar of events. Schedule website, social media updates, event promotion and publicity around these dates.

Set submission deadlines for the year for all publications. Create a content calendar for social media and website postings.

Develop a budget to support the plan.

Present the communications plan to the executive board for approval.

A successful PTA communications plan should:

  • Adhere to PTA noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian policies.
  • Inform every family in the school of the aims and accomplishments of the PTA.
  • Encourage and highlight attendance at PTA meetings and family engagement in PTA projects and activities.
  • Foster cooperation with the school in keeping parents informed about school functions, regulations and/or procedures on child-related issues.
  • Inform the community about PTA activities and school functions.
  • Express appreciation to those participating in or contributing to programs.
  • Tackle barriers such as language and culture.

ENSURING QUALITY COMMUNICATIONS

  • Make sure that all publications material is cleared with the principal and PTA president prior to publication or posting.
    • Principal is responsible for the accuracy of school information and compliance with the State Education Code and school district policy.
    • PTA president is responsible for the accuracy of PTA information and compliance with PTA policies.
  • Use the PTA logo in all communications.
  • Abide by copyright laws and republish articles and art in an ethical manner.
  • Do not include photographs of or specific information (names, class, email, address, etc.) about adults or students without written permission.
  • Keep your message brief and to the point.
  • Create visually interesting communications with careful use of photographs, bullets, quotes, charts, and graphics.
  • Date all materials.
  • Have 2-3 people other than the author proofread prior to publishing or posting.
  • Arrange for translation services.
  • Learn more

CREATING MEDIA NEWS

Local media may be interested in news coverage of your PTA event or project if it:

  • Piggybacks on breaking news.
    • Be prepared to be one of the experts and demonstrate that PTA is a voice on the issues being debated.
  • Ties in with anniversaries and annual happenings.
    • Identify events or dates related to schools and children (i.e.  Back-to-School) and find a way to tie them to PTA  programs.
  • Spotlights a special event.
    • Announce activities that may be of interest to a large audience and invite local VIPs.
  • Uses a “hook” or “angle.”
    • Tell the story in a new way. Provide a new angle.

ONGOING RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Give a regular communications report to your PTA.
  • Use PTA publications to promote PTA events and share information.
  • Maintain an up-to-date website.
  • Use social media to communicate with members.
  • Encourage officers and chairmen to contribute short articles and reports for the newsletter, website, or social media site.
  • Provide media releases as requested.

Resolutions Process

New business (other than amendments to bylaws or the Legislation Program) is brought before the convention through the resolutions process.

When adopted by the California State PTA convention delegates, a resolution becomes an official PTA position which provides authority and direction for action by California State PTA and its constituent associations. A new resolution in conflict with one already adopted shall not be introduced, unless the former resolution is first rescinded. If the motion to rescind is adopted but the new resolution is defeated, the convention delegates shall be given an opportunity to readopt the previously rescinded resolution by majority vote.

Resolutions remain in effect as current positions for at least 10 years, unless they are rescinded or replaced by a newer version by convention delegates or designated as historical record by the California State PTA Board of Managers.

Resolutions are designated as historical record when one or more of these are true:

  1. The intent has been fully carried out.
  2. The same subject has been expanded or updated by other resolutions.
  3. It is no longer appropriate to PTA concerns.
  4. It was applicable only to a specific past program, event or circumstance.

Resolutions adopted more than ten years earlier may be designated as historical if they have not been resubmitted to convention delegates or reviewed and deemed relevant as a current position by the California State PTA Board of Managers. A vote by the Board of Managers must be taken to rescind resolutions or to designate resolutions to the historical record.

Criteria for Resolutions

Each resolution submitted to California State PTA for consideration and possible action by convention delegates shall meet the following criteria:

  1. Concern a field of interest of California State PTA;
  2. Be in harmony with the Purposes and basic policies of the PTA;
  3. Concern a matter which is statewide in scope;
  4. Be accompanied by resource material which validates the statewide concern and “whereas” statements (Where We Stand: Resolutions, Position Statements);
  5. Include a brief summary, table of contents, bibliography and index listing the resources to validate each whereas; and
  6. Be written in appropriate resolution format and submitted in accordance with all specifications set by the California State PTA Board of Managers.

Submitting Resolutions

For important information on writing and submitting a resolution, refer to the California State PTA publication “Procedure for Preparing a PTA Resolution“. This document may be obtained on the California State PTA website (capta.org), or upon request to the California State PTA office by telephone, or via email to resolutions@capta.org.

A resolution should be submitted only by association vote of a PTA unit, council, or district in good standing; by a PTA inter-district committee with the approval of the majority of districts concerned; or by the California State PTA Board of Managers.

Reminder: A resolution being carried forward from a previous PTA administration must be reviewed and deemed relevant by the current administration or voting body of the PTA association.

Any unit, council or district PTA planning to prepare a resolution for convention must submit a draft resolution, background summary, and initial list of resources to the California State PTA office no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 1. DRAFT resolution materials may be delivered, faxed or emailed and must be submitted with the  Resolution Action Cover Sheet. Approvals through channels are not required at this stage.

FINAL Resolutions from unit, council, district, and inter-district PTA committees must be received in the California State PTA office no later than 5:00 p.m. January 5 * with the completed Resolution Action Cover Sheet. The originator’s FINAL resolution shall be transmitted through channels (Lines of Communication) for action at each level. The maker of the resolution is responsible for ensuring the FINAL resolution documents and a binder of substantiating research are submitted in written and electronic form to the California State PTA office by the deadline with the appropriate signatures.

* The submittal will be accepted on the next business day for any deadline which falls on a holiday or weekend.

Council and/or district PTAs’ executive board(s) shall review a FINAL resolution submitted by the original PTA body and shall upon review promptly take action to approve, disapprove, or choose no recommendations. This action shall be recorded on the resolution’s action cover sheet. Disapproval or lack of recommendation does not prevent the originating body from submitting a resolution to California State PTA.

The resolution maker may optionally submit the resolution to other PTA units, councils and districts for additional endorsement. Endorsement must be approved by that PTA’s executive board.

The Board of Managers should meet the same deadline for submitting resolutions as other PTA bodies; however, the California State PTA Board of Managers may find it necessary to present new business which is developed after the due date to convention delegates.

California State PTA Resolutions Committee Review and Recommendation

The Resolutions Committee shall meet after the January 5 deadline and before the next Board of Managers meeting to review and evaluate the resolutions submitted. The Resolutions Committee may edit or adapt resolutions as necessary to make them appropriate for convention action without changing the intent. The committee will review such changes with resolution makers prior to finalizing.

The Resolutions Committee will prepare a report for the California State PTA Board of Managers explaining the recommended disposition of all resolutions submitted.

The Resolutions Committee’s possible recommendations include:

  • to refer a resolution to convention delegates;
  • to refer a resolution to a California State PTA Board of Managers commission or committee for information or study;
  • to combine two or more related resolutions;
  • to return a resolution to the originating body with a written explanation of the reason(s) for the decision; or
  • to refer a resolution to National PTA.

The California State PTA Board of Managers shall review the recommendations of the Resolutions Committee and decide which resolutions will be placed on the convention agenda as action items. Placement on the convention agenda by the California State PTA Board of Managers does not constitute endorsement by California State PTA. The California State PTA Board of Managers may endorse a resolution by following appropriate motion protocols.

The Resolutions Committee chair is responsible for reporting promptly to the originating PTA groups the disposition of the resolutions submitted.

Resolutions recommended for presentation to delegates at convention shall include a brief summary of background information and will indicate all actions taken by other PTAs.

Presentation of Resolutions at Convention

California State PTA shall publish the text of each resolution in the Convention Chronicle with the CALL to convention. Resolutions shall also be emailed through channels, and the proposed resolutions shall be placed in the convention section of the California State PTA website.

Prior to convention, units, councils and districts are encouraged to review, discuss and vote on the resolutions to guide delegate action at convention. Delegates should be aware that a resolution could be changed at convention.

Resolutions will be presented to convention delegates for debate and vote in accordance with convention rules and regulations. Resolutions for consideration at convention will be formatted as presented and provided to all delegates. The Resolutions Committee chair shall present each resolution to convention delegates for consideration.

Time will be allocated at the state convention for delegate hearings on resolutions. Voting delegates are strongly encouraged to attend resolution hearings to ask questions or  to prepare amendments.

Resolutions which have not been through the approval process may not be introduced from the convention floor.

Emergency Resolutions

Provision is made for submitting an emergency resolution, if the urgency of the subject matter arose after the January 5 deadline.

  • Emergency resolutions must conform to the same criteria required for all other resolutions.
  • Emergency resolutions submitted by a PTA district, council, or unit shall have the approval of the originating body and the signature of the president of those constituent PTA associations (unit, council or district PTAs) through which it is transmitted to California State PTA.
  • Emergency resolutions, accompanied by verification of the urgency of the subject matter, must be submitted to the Resolutions Committee for review and approved for consideration at the convention by the California State PTA Board of Directors.

Action Following Convention

Resolutions adopted by the delegates at convention shall constitute a directive to the California State PTA Board of Managers. Resolutions shall be assigned to the appropriate commission(s) or committee(s) or to the president of California State PTA for implementation or for preparation of guidelines for further action. The commission(s), committee(s), or the president shall be requested to give these resolutions priority consideration.

The Resolutions Committee (or committee task force) shall review all adopted resolutions which are to be forwarded to the National PTA convention to ensure the resolutions meet National PTA criteria.

If delegates vote to refer a resolution to the Board of Managers, the resolutions chair shall assign it to the appropriate commission(s) or committee(s) of California State PTA for study and/or action. Any resolution not acted upon by convention delegates shall be returned to the Resolutions Committee. The Board of Managers will determine the disposition of the resolution upon receiving a recommendation from the Resolutions Committee.

A report on the implementation of the resolutions shall be given to the delegates at the next annual convention.

 To find PTA Resolutions refer to:

For additional information on the resolution process, contact the California State PTA Resolutions Chair at resolutions@capta.org or 916.440.1985 ext. 324

Public School Employer-Employee Negotiations

Adopted March 1974 – Reviewed and deemed relevant April 2015 – Education Commission

California State PTA recognizes that public school employer-employee collective bargaining is mandated by law and that negotiations greatly influence education. As mandated by law, the bargaining parties are required to make public their positions. These details must be provided to the public at the beginning of the process. PTA has the responsibility to become knowledgeable and to inform the public about the proposed contract and any proposed changes through the negotiations. As PTA is an organization whose membership is composed of parents, teachers, students, school district employees, school board members and concerned community members, PTA must remain neutral in a dispute arising from school employer-employee negotiations.

California State PTA believes:

  • All school employees are entitled to the benefits of fair employment practices including due process, optimum working conditions and adequate salaries and benefits;
  • Locally-elected school boards, as representatives of the people, have legal responsibility for decision-making;
  • Local school boards and school employee organizations should be accountable to the public for the terms of the contract and the fiscal impact on the instructional program; and
  • Full disclosure of the final contract should be made available to the public and fiscal impact of the contract should be discussed at a public hearing before the final vote of the school board.

California State PTA supports:

  • The adoption of policies by local school boards that provide full opportunity for the public to express its views on the issues to be negotiated; and
  • The right of school employees, through their organizations, to meet and negotiate in good faith with public school employers to reach written agreement on those matters within the scope of bargaining according to state law. (Included in scope is the requirement that the local district peer assistance review process will be negotiated in the contract according to AB 2X, Statutes of 1999.)

The PTA has a responsibility to:

  • Study and become informed early in the process about the proposed contracts and the fiscal implications and to analyze the effect on the students and the programs in the district;
  • Inform all parties if any issue being negotiated either is consistent with or differs with adopted California State PTA position statements;
  • Encourage all parties to work cooperatively to develop procedures to ensure that classrooms and students are not used for propaganda purposes;
  • Remain neutral in the event of a dispute††;
  • Continue with normal PTA activities in the event of a dispute; and
  • Inform parents and community members about proposed contracts and encourage other school-based and community organizations to study proposed contracts.

(The above statement is a policy of the PTA as an organization, and is in no way intended as an infringement on the activities of its members acting as individuals.)

Scope of bargaining – The law defines “scope,” as a broad range of issues and subjects that either party may or may not introduce for negotiation. Scope is a crucial, dynamic, and frequently litigated area.

†† Dispute – a verbal controversy, a controversy, a debate, or quarrel on any issue under discussion.

Collective Bargaining

The following “walks” PTA leadership through the collective bargaining process and further provides a step-by-step guide for appropriate PTA activities.

A Checklist for Parents on the Role of Collective Bargaining in Public Education

What role can your PTA/PTSA assume when your local school board and teachers begin to negotiate a contract?

The most important thing your unit, council or district PTA can do is advocate for all children. The members can do this by:

  • Studying the contract proposals and analyzing the effect on the students in the district.
  • Asking the local school board and the local bargaining units: “What effect will this proposed contract have on all children?”
  • Working with all education stakeholders to secure adequate school funding.

The PTA does not advocate the inclusion or exclusion of certain items in the proposed contract. However, PTA members should be knowledgeable and aware of the effects of the proposed contract provisions on students.

Some questions PTA members should ask include

  • Are the implications of the provisions upon the budget/financial resources of the school district understood by all negotiators and the community?
  • If a contract dispute should arise, would an arbitrator’s interpretation of a provision have an adverse effect on the best interests of students?
  • How will this proposed contract affect other school district employees?
  • If the language of a provision is unclear, what is its history? Ask questions from both sides.

PTA unit/council/district PTAs should be aware of the progress of the negotiations, should publicize proposed changes as they are announced, and should give input appropriately to ensure all contract provisions place the interests of the students first.

A check list of items all parents should keep in mind when studying the contract proposals:

Guidelines for Class Size
Does the contract allow
–  adequate student/teacher ratio for individual instruction?
–  adjustments to meet unanticipated needs?
–  flexibility for needed curriculum adjustments or needed education innovations?

Maintenance of Standards
Does the contract allow
–  new programs and changes in scheduling and curriculum offerings to occur during the contract period?

Workday and Workload
Does the contract make provisions for
–  assistance to students before and after classroom hours?
–  staff development and orientation opportunities?
–  staff attendance at evening meetings and student activities?
–  lesson preparation time for appropriate personnel?
–  flexibility to allow for creative and innovative strategies in the classroom?
–  a definition of professional duties?

Conference Time
Does the contract permit and encourage
–  reasonable periods of time for teachers and administrators to confer with parents and students at hours convenient for working parents?
–  reasonable periods of time for meetings among school staff to promote collegiality and better understanding of students’ needs?

Extracurricular Activities
Does the contract provide
–  stipends or incentives for supervision of students participating in extracurricular activities such as sport, drama, music, school newspapers, etc.?

Release Time for Teachers
Does the contract provide
–  unpaid leave for teachers who wish to improve their teaching skills?
–  adequate classroom supervision by certificated personnel when the regularly scheduled teacher is absent from the classroom?

Guidelines for PTAs Regarding Public School Employer-Employee Negotiations

California State PTA strongly urges all unit, council and district PTAs to closely monitor their respective school boards’ compliance with the Public Notice section of the Employer-Employee Relations Act. Unless a PTA does so, it will jeopardize its ability to make meaningful, timely comments about the initial and subsequent proposals under negotiation.

Contract Study Committee

PTA has a responsibility to become knowledgeable and to inform the public about proposed contracts. To fulfill this responsibility, the following steps should be taken:

1.  Form a PTA study committee including representation from all PTA units within the school district. School district employees should not serve on this study committee because they have the opportunity to express their views through their respective bargaining units.
Please Note: Where a council or district PTA relates directly to a school district, the said council or district PTA should appoint the study committee. Where a group of units or councils relates to a school district, the units or councils should appoint members to serve on a study committee.

2.  The PTA criterion for any study, including collective bargaining issues, must be, “WHAT WILL BE THE EFFECT ON ALL CHILDREN?”

3.  Encourage other school-based and community organizations to make their own studies of the proposed contract(s).

4.  Study the current contract, the school district budget, initial contract proposals and subsequent proposals from the school board and employees’ organization.

a.  Adequate lead time is essential for any group beginning to study collective bargaining proposals since several key documents should be reviewed first. The committee must react to contract issues from a position of knowledge about the current fiscal condition of the school district, and how the current agreement affects the education of students.

b.  Documents to be studied:

(1)    THE BUDGET — A thorough briefing on the current year’s budget is essential to understand a school district’s financial condition and how funds are being allocated. This information should be presented by school district financial staff members in a clearly understandable format. (See Resource List, EdSource.)

(2)   THE CURRENT CONTRACT — Almost all school districts have an existing contract with each employee bargaining unit. While it may seem to be a complex task, it is important that time be allowed for the committee to become familiar with and knowledgeable about the current contract language. Particular attention should be paid to the interests of parents and students in the current contract.

(3)   INITIAL CONTRACT PROPOSALS — When each bargaining unit’s new contract is to be negotiated, the initial proposals should be obtained from the employee group and the school district. Representatives from management and the employee groups should be invited to give their interpretations of the proposals. The language should be clear in its intent and the committee should ask, “WHAT WILL BE THE EFFECT ON ALL CHILDREN?”
The school board must allow time for the community to study and then comment on the board’s initial proposals before adopting them as the board’s negotiating position. The PTA should find out what the school board’s time frame is for this process.

(4)   SUBSEQUENT PROPOSALS — The study committee should continue to monitor the negotiating process for the introduction of new subjects arising after the presentation of initial proposals. These subsequent proposals must be made public within 24 hours after their introduction.

5.  If any questions or concerns arise from the study of the initial or subsequent proposals, those questions or concerns should be communicated to the group that originated those proposals.

6.  Report results of the study with any recommended action(s) to the PTA membership. Recommendations might include comments to be made to the school board and/or comments to be made to the bargaining unit. Such comments must be made within the framework of California State PTA policies and positions.

7.  Follow the reporting and communicating procedures through the negotiations process.

8.  Study information published by your local media.

Employer-Employee Relations Act
Article 8. Public Notice

3547. Public meetings; public records

(a)   All initial proposals of exclusive representatives and of public school employers, which relate to matters within the scope of representation, shall be presented at a public meeting of the public school employer and thereafter shall be public records.

(b)   Meeting and negotiating shall not take place on any proposal until a reasonable time has elapsed after the submission of the proposal to enable the public to become informed and the public has the opportunity to express itself regarding the proposal at a meeting of the public school employer.

(c)   After the public has had the opportunity to express itself, the public school employer shall, at a meeting which is open to the public, adopt its initial proposal.

(d)   New subjects of meeting and negotiating arising after the presentation of initial proposals shall be made public within 24 hours. If a vote is taken on such subject by the public school employer, the vote thereon by each member shall also be made public within 24 hours.

(e)   The board may adopt regulations for the purpose of implementing this section, which are consistent with the intent of the section; namely that the public be informed of the issues that are being negotiated upon and have full opportunity to express their views on the issues to the public school employer, and to know of the positions of their elected representatives.

California Government Code (as of January 1990)

The Collective Bargaining Agreement

Current law requires the following:

Before a public school employer enters into a written agreement with an exclusive representative covering matters within the scope of representation, the major provisions of the agreement, including, but not limited to, the costs that would be incurred by the public school employer under the agreement for the current and subsequent fiscal years, shall be disclosed at a public meeting of the public school employer in a format established for this purpose by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

California Government Code Section 3547.5

One of the recommendations from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to school boards for implementation of this law is that the board:

Make available to the public a copy of the proposed agreement prior to the day of the public meeting; the number of days the agreement should be made available to the public is determined locally.

California State PTA strongly recommends that unit, council and district PTAs request their respective school boards to adopt a policy that includes a minimum of ten days as the “number of days the agreement should be made available to the public….” The policy also should require the board to set time aside for public comment before entering into the written agreement.

California State PTA urges unit, council and district PTAs to study the proposed agreement and make appropriate comments. Such comments must be made within the framework of California State PTA policies and positions.

Sample Letter to the School Board, Superintendent and Bargaining Unit President

ORGANIZATION TITLE AND ADDRESS
(May be home address of PTA president)

Date

TO:            _______, President,
Board of Trustees
_______ School District
_______ President, _______ Association

FROM:    _______ PTA (Council or District PTA) President

SUBJECT: Negotiation

The _______ PTA has carefully reviewed the California State PTA’s Toolkit information on negotiations. _______ PTA will follow these guidelines. Accordingly, we shall remain neutral during negotiations. We recognize that at times negotiations can be very difficult and time consuming for the school district and the employee association. We know you can appreciate the awkward situation labor negotiations can create for PTA president and PTA executive board members. To ensure compliance with the California State PTA policy of neutrality, PTA members will not attend separate meetings with either school district or employee association representatives. It would be appropriate for PTA to invite the school district superintendent or representative, a representative of the district employee association to discuss negotiations at a PTA board association meeting, but both sides must be represented at that time. PTA will not distribute information provided by either side, but may choose to distribute information PTA has prepared. The _______ PTA will continue its regularly scheduled meeting on the school or district sites, and its regular schedule of volunteer programs.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to discuss our position of neutrality or any of the above-mentioned matters with you.

Sincerely,

__________________________________________
PTA President (Council or District PTA)

Public Involvement in Collective Bargaining Process

When local school boards and employee groups meet at the negotiating table, the decisions made are of great importance to the quality of education provided for students. Parents and concerned community members have realized that negotiations by school employee groups such as those representing teachers, school office personnel, aides, custodians and cafeteria personnel greatly influence events in the classroom and have an impact on the overall cost of education.

It is essential that public input into this process be based on knowledge of the operations of the local school district. It is only in this way the public can become a valid part of the process and present viewpoints pertinent to the current contract or proposals, while consistently advocating positions that support a high standard of education for students in the classroom.

California State PTA has prepared this paper to assist its membership to better understand the dynamic role collective bargaining plays in education.

I.   What Is Collective Bargaining?*

Collective bargaining is a labor relations process developed in the private sector which recognizes the historical conflict between management interests such as profits and the interests of workers such as salaries and working conditions. In the collective bargaining process, the representatives of labor and management present each other with demands—proposals—and proceed to compromise their divergent viewpoints—negotiate—until a written settlement—contract—is reached. Traditionally, private sector negotiations are conducted in private meetings of the two parties and often lead to an adversarial relationship.

II.   Why Is There Collective Bargaining In Public Education?

The momentum for collective bargaining in public education increased during the late 1960s as teachers and other school employees felt they could not achieve desired economic benefits and acceptable working conditions as long as school boards, represented by superintendents, retained unilateral decision-making authority on these issues. More than 40 states now have collective bargaining laws.

III.   What Is The Education Employment Relations Act?

The EDUCATION EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS ACT (EERA) provides that negotiations “shall” occur between school boards and their employee groups and negotiations “shall” be limited in scope to matters relating to wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment. The process for establishing collective bargaining was initially spelled out in Senate Bill 160, the Educational Employment Relations Act of 1976 authored by Senator Al Rodda.

*Refer to Contents of a Typical Teachers Contract and GLOSSARY on collective bargaining terminology.

There are also subjects upon which the employer is only required to consult with the employee organization, e.g., definition of educational objectives, determination of course content and curriculum, and selection of textbooks. The school board may expand these topics as it wishes although none of the items for consultation has to be included in the contract.

In reality, however, the exact definition of scope is unclear and is one of the most controversial areas in negotiations. A regulatory body established by EERA—the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)—is constantly called upon to settle disputes dealing with scope as well as carry out the many other duties with which the PERB has been charged.

IV.   How Does Collective Bargaining Affect Education?

The negotiated contract becomes the instrument for school district governance on each provision that has been negotiated into the signed contract. Therefore, the contract has potential implications for everything which occurs in the classrooms of that school district since issues dealing with class size, hours of employment, teacher transfer policies, procedures for employee evaluation as well as wages and fringe benefits all have an impact on the quality of education.

V.   Why Should The Public Be Involved?

The community has a high stake in its public education system and, therefore, should be equally concerned about the negotiations which result in the final contract. While negotiations are usually conducted in private meetings between representatives of the school district and the employee group, the public must study the issues, evaluate their impact on the educational system, and know how the collective bargaining process works and how the public can fit into the process.

If a representative system of government such as ours—one in which school boards are elected to represent the public viewpoint—is to work, people must have the ability to:

  1. Elect their representatives;
  2. Influence those they elect;
  3. Hold those officials accountable.

VI.   How is the Public Provided For in EERA?

When EERA was passed, it included a very important section which provides for public access to the collective bargaining process. Called the “sunshine” clause, it mandates that all initial proposals of any contract negotiations between the employee group and the school district shall be presented at a public meeting of the board of education and that a “reasonable” time shall elapse to allow for public input before negotiations start. Since PERB has mandated all boards of education adopt a public notice policy, PTA members should become knowledgeable about their school district public notice policy and ensure that it specifies:

  1. How the district will make the public aware of the issues;
  2. When the public can speak to each set of proposals;
  3. How the public may speak to the issues.

VII.   How Does the Public Speak to the Issues?

According to EERA, any person or representative group may comment on the issues to be negotiated or on the contract itself at any meeting of the board of education. The PTA does not advocate the inclusion or exclusion of certain clauses in the contract. PTA members should ask, however, that each clause be analyzed to determine “WHAT EFFECT THIS WILL HAVE ON ALL CHILDREN.”

When feasible, PTA involvement in the collective bargaining process should be through a Public Notice Sunshine Committee. This approach will allow the PTA organization to maintain its neutral position regarding any dispute(s) that may arise, and will preclude offending any one segment of PTA membership.

Contents of a Typical Teachers Contract (EdSource, March 1999)

Compensation: cost-of-living adjustment, salary schedule, pay for specific duties (department chair, coach), minimum teacher salaries; expenses, travel reimbursement, tuition reimbursement; mentor teacher selection process

Benefits: health and welfare premiums, specific plans offered, retiree benefits

Hours: length of work day, school year, student year, calendar (holidays, vacations), minimum days, preparation periods, lunch

Leaves: bereavement, pregnancy, child rearing, religious, sick leave, disability, sabbatical, personal need/necessity, jury duty, military, industrial accident/illness, catastrophic illness

Retirement: early retirement, benefits

Nondiscrimination Job Assignment: assignment, promotion, transfer, reassignment

Class size and case loads: pupils per teacher, students per counselor, number of teaching periods, instructional aides

Safety Conditions

Evaluation: procedures and remediation
Grievance: procedures, appeal process, mediation, arbitration
Discipline: procedures and criteria

Layoff and Reemployment

Organizational Security: payroll deduction of union dues (“agency fee”), maintenance of membership, fair share fees, union rights

Work Stoppage: “no-strikes” clause
Contract: duration, reopeners
Savings Clause: contract in effect if portion invalidated by court, Legislature

Management Rights

Consultation: topics, procedures

Glossary

* AGENCY SHOP – A requirement, usually contained in a negotiated agreement, that all employees in a bargaining entity pay a fee, (often called a “fair share” or “service” fee) covering the cost of representation to the employee organization which is the exclusive representative of the entity.

* AGREEMENT – A written negotiated contract between the employer and the recognized exclusive representative of employees in a bargaining entity that sets out conditions of employment (wages, hours, fringe benefits, etc.) for a stated period of time. Often contains a procedure for settling grievances over interpretation or application of the agreement and may include terms governing the parties’ relationship. Under EERA, an agreement, which may be for a period of no more than three years, becomes binding when accepted by both parties. PERB has no authority to enforce agreements.

* ARBITRATION – A method of resolving disputes between an employer and employee organization by submitting the dispute to a neutral third party (or tripartite panel) whose decision may be binding or merely advisory.

* CERTIFICATED EMPLOYEE – A school employee who is qualified by a certificate or credential to perform a particular educational service, such as classroom teacher, counselor and psychologist, as defined in Education Code.

*** CFIER – The California Foundation for Improvement of Employer-Employee Relations. The organization is committed to “building and maintaining effective labor-management relationships of partnerships.” Its activities include training programs in negotiations and problem-solving, neutral facilitation services, skill-building workshops and conferences, consultation, research and development, and long-term support service.

* CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEE – A school employee in a position not requiring a certificate or credential, such as teachers’ aides or clerical, custodial or food service employees.

* EDUCATIONAL EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS ACT (EERA) – The process for establishing collective bargaining. Enacted in 1975 as Senate Bill 160 (Rodda), Chapter 961, Laws of 1975 and subsequent amendments.

* FACT-FINDING – The method of impasse resolution, usually advisory, that involves investigation of a bargaining dispute by a neutral third party, or tripartite panel that reports the results to the parties, usually with recommendations for settling the dispute. Under EERA, the parties may request that their dispute be submitted to fact-finding (under specified procedures) if a mediator is unable to settle the controversy within 15 days and the mediator declares that fact-finding is appropriate.

* GOOD FAITH BARGAINING – Broadly defined as the duty of the parties to meet and negotiate at reasonable times with willingness to reach agreement on matters within the scope of representation; however, neither party is required to make a concession or agree to any proposal.

** GRIEVANCE – A means of settling disputes which arise from the interpretation or application of the existing contract. When disagreements cannot be settled at one of the lower levels of the grievance procedure the exclusive bargaining agent may take the disagreement to arbitration. Arbitration can be binding or advisory depending on the wording of the contract.

** IMPASSE – A deadlock or stalemate in bargaining declared by one or both parties. Declaration of impasse usually begins the implementation of impasse procedures (mediation or fact finding), and once these procedures have been exhausted can allow for unilateral action by the employer.

** INITIAL PROPOSAL – A written offer for consideration made by the exclusive representative or the school district as part of the bargaining process for the next agreement. The EERA lists those items which are within the scope of representation and are the subject of mandatory bargaining.

*** INTEREST-BASED BARGAINING – A more cooperative method for reaching agreement about the critical aspects of employer-employee relationships. Negotiations are based on mutual interests rather than on individual positions.

* MEDIATION – Also called conciliation. Efforts of a neutral third party to help resolve a dispute (usually involving contract negotiations) between an employer and employee organization. The mediator normally has no power to impose a settlement. Under EERA, mediation is the first step in the impasse resolution procedure.

* NEGOTIATIONS – The process of the employer and the exclusive representative meeting together and bargaining in a good faith effort to reach agreement on matters within the scope of representation and executing, if requested by either party, an agreement incorporating matters agreed on.

* PERB – The Public Employment Relations Board is charged with administering and enforcing EERA. Among its many functions are investigating and deciding “unfair practice” charges or other claims that the act has been violated, establishing or approving bargaining entities, conducting representation elections, and seeking court enforcement of its orders and decisions as it deems necessary.

** PUBLIC NOTICE – The public notice section of EERA is intended to give the public an opportunity to present its views. Initial bargaining proposals of both the exclusive representative and the district must be presented at a public meeting of the school board and are public records. Negotiations will be delayed a reasonable time for the public to comment.

Unless the parties agree otherwise, laws requiring open meetings do not apply to meetings and discussions between parties; with mediators, arbitrators, or fact-finding panels; and executive sessions of the school board on negotiations.

If both parties agree, any phrase of negotiations may be conducted publicly, or observers may be invited. Typically, the school board and union announce their opening positions and then talk privately. Although any meeting of three or more school board members must be open to the public, EERA specifically permits private meetings between the school board and its negotiator.

* SCOPE OF BARGAINING – The law defines “scope,” as a broad range of issues and subjects that either party may or may not introduce for negotiation. Scope is a crucial, dynamic, and frequently litigated area.

* SICKOUT – A job action involving a number of employees failing to report to work on the same day and claiming to be sick.

** SLOWDOWN – A job action involving a number of employees working at less than normal efficiency.

* STRIKE – A work stoppage. Employees acting together in refusing to work in order to gain a bargaining concession or to persuade the employer to take certain action. Usually occurs when negotiations on a new agreement reach impasse and lasts until settlement on a new agreement is reached, but may be called for a shorter period as a pressure tactic or to protest employer actions. Usually conducted under leadership of the employee organization, following a vote among members. A “wildcat” strike is a walkout by employees without authorization of the organization. A “rolling” or “yo-yo” strike involves several intermittent walkouts of short duration interspersed among days when employees report to work.

* SUNSHINE LAW – A requirement that bargaining proposals or other aspects of public employee bargaining be made public. Under EERA, initial proposals as well as new topics that arise during negotiations must be made available to the public.

* Pocket Guide to the Educational Employment Relations Act, California Public Employee Relations, September 1997
** California Teachers Association Collective Bargaining Handbook
*** Collective Bargaining, 1999, EdSource, 520 San Antonio Road, Suite 200, Mountain View, CA 94040-1217; 650.917.9481; www.edsource.org

Resources

California State PTA Vice President for Education – 916.440.1985 ext. 305

Selected Readings on California School Finance, EdSource, 520 San Antonio Road, Suite 200, Mountain View, CA 94040-1217; 650.917.9481; www.edsource.org

Pocket Guide To The Employer-Employee Relations Act (Fifth Edition, September 1997), California Public Employee Relations Program, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-5555; 510.643.7092

County Office of Education (Office of Employee Relations)

Public Employment Relations Board (PERB); 916.322.3198

California State PTA Toolkit, position statement, “Public School Employer-Employee Negotiations”

PTA Activities in Relation to Employer-Employee Disputes

Public school employer-employee negotiations and/or disputes and disputes between bargaining units are very much a part of the reality of operating public schools. THE PTA MUST REMAIN NEUTRAL* and MUST refrain from taking sides in all disputes. It is a PTA responsibility to provide opportunities for public understanding of disputed issues through sponsoring public meetings where all sides may present their views.

PTA speaks as an advocate for children and youth. It is a PTA responsibility to urge school board members, school district employees and negotiators on all sides to make the welfare of the students the first and ultimate consideration in all negotiations. PTAs must do this within the framework of California State PTA policies.

(These two paragraphs must be used together at all times, neither may be used without the other.)

*“Not taking part with or assisting either of two or more contending parties.” Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged.

1.   PTA Leaders’ Responsibilities When a Dispute Arises:

a.   The PTA council/district PTA leadership must consult with the California State PTA leadership (through the California State PTA office, 916.440.1985).

b.   The council/district PTA leadership must meet with the leadership of all affected unit PTAs to instruct them in observance of PTA’s neutrality policy.

c.   The council/district PTA leadership must meet with the school district administration and bargaining unit(s) leadership to explain PTA neutrality.

d.   The unit PTA leadership must meet with the school site administration and school site bargaining leadership to explain PTA neutrality.

e.   The unit PTA leadership must communicate PTA’s position of neutrality to the membership.

2.   PTAs MUST Remain Neutral:

a.   PTAs must not recruit substitute teachers or staff the classrooms. Classroom instruction is the responsibility of the school district. (See item 4.b.)

b.   PTAs must not recruit substitute classified employees or staff those positions.

c.   PTAs may be on school grounds in general activity areas if there are concerns about the safety of the students.

d.   PTAs must not distribute literature from either side, but may choose to distribute information PTA has prepared.

e.   PTAs must not show partiality toward the administration, the non-striking or striking personnel in any way (e.g., verbally, by serving refreshments, by walking the picket line, etc.).

3.   Remaining Neutral Includes Continuing Normal PTA Activities:

a.   Regular PTA volunteer programs, e.g., volunteers in the media center, library playground, office, lunchroom, classrooms, etc. A list of those who volunteer regularly must be given to the school site administrator and school site bargaining unit(s) leadership.

b.   When PTAs regularly meet in the school facility, such meetings may continue. However, the PTA should make certain that its school facility use permit has not been temporarily suspended by the school district.

c.   Scheduled PTA-sponsored programs and projects may continue.

d.   If a PTA is licensed by the State of California as a child care provider, this activity may be continued. Contracts with parents obligate the PTA to continue providing the child care program. A licensed child care program usually includes a contract with the school district for use of the facility. If this is the case, the district is obligated to ensure safe use of the facility.

4.   PTA Leaders’ Obligations:

a.   There is no intent by the PTA to infringe on the rights of its members to act as individuals. However, if an individual is perceived as a PTA leader, he/she is obligated to consider the effect of his/her actions on the PTA organization.

b.   If a PTA leader believes that conscience requires a statement or action favoring one side or the other, a public disclaimer* must be written and sent to the school site administration, school district superintendent, president of the school board, school district employee organization and PTA organization leadership of council and district PTA.

c.   If a PTA leader is a school district employee and plans to work during a dispute, a public disclaimer* must be signed.

*A public disclaimer should include the following information:

Although I serve as ______(position)______ at the ____________________________ PTA, any statement I may make or action I may take regarding the current employer-employee dispute is an individual statement or action and has no connection whatsoever with ____________________________ PTA, whose position is one of strict neutrality.

____________________________________________
Signature

____________________________________________
Date

d.   If a PTA president is also a school district employee with membership in the organization negotiating with the school district, and a dispute arises, the president must delegate the responsibilities of the presidency to the first vice president during these negotiations.

5.   In the Event of an Unexpected Walkout* the PTA:

a.   May provide volunteers, if necessary, on the day of an unexpected walkout to care for students in general activity areas on the school grounds until their parents make arrangements to get them home. This activity must not include classroom instruction.

b.   Must not staff classrooms. Staffing of classrooms by noncredentialed personnel is not only inconsistent with PTA efforts to have a qualified teacher in every classroom, it is illegal and the school district can forfeit its ADA (average daily attendance) funding from the state. (Authority: California State Education Code.)

*Job action without prior notification to the employer and with/without the approval of the employee organization (e.g., wildcat strike).

It Should Be Noted

  • The school administration is legally responsible for staffing the school. The PTA, as an organization, cannot and must not assume this responsibility.
  • When in doubt regarding any activity, consult with California State PTA leaders – office telephone 916.440.1985.

6.   Dealing With the Media:

a.   PTA leaders should expect to be contacted by the media. Any personal opinion is an inappropriate subject for discussion by a PTA spokesperson.

b.   Consult  California State PTA (through the California State PTA office) if advice is needed about how to effectively communicate PTA’s position of neutrality.

c.   If caught unprepared, do not attempt to speak “off the cuff” to the caller. State that this is not a convenient time to talk and you will return the call.

d.   PTA leaders must not attack other organizations or representatives of other organizations (i.e., employee groups or school board members).

After a Strike

PTA has an opportunity and an obligation to help restore the school environment to one that provides a positive educational experience for all students.

PTA members must consider what is in the “best interests of all students” and be a vital part of the healing process between employees, employers and parents.

Any planned PTA activity for school district employees MUST have the cooperation and support of the school staff and the approval of the principal and the district superintendent.

For advice on handling individual situations, contact the California State PTA vice president for education and/or vice president for leadership services through the California State PTA office.

Graduation or Prom Night

Programs and Member Services

A PTA graduation or prom night event is coordinated by a committee whose chairman is an appointed or elected member of the executive board. The committee members can include other members of the board, the principal, a faculty member, the president (ex officio), and other PTA members appointed by the president.

The major responsibility of this committee is to provide a safe, healthy, legal and supervised recreational event for students in cooperation with the community. A secondary responsibility may be to raise funds to host the event.

Activities

Activities should

Be inexpensive, involve many members and students and be fun.

Not involve commercial or advertising obligations.

Not conflict with other PTA, school or community events.

Create goodwill for PTA in the community.

See Transportation Planning.

After the Event

Complete an inventory of supplies and equipment related to the activity, establish a location to store reusable equipment; determine if the value of stored materials warrants the purchasing of property insurance coverage. (Note: Current PTA insurance does not cover unit PTA property.)

Safety

Have proper adult supervision.

Be aware of risks like hiring a limousine or charter bus. Verify their business licenses with the local Public Utilities Commission.

Follow school district safety procedures when using their buses.

See Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide for allowable, discouraged and PTA-prohibited activities.

A PTA sponsoring or cosponsoring a graduation or prom night activity must follow all California State PTA financial procedures and the Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide.

Resources:
American Automobile Association (AAA) Celebrate Life
California Attorney General’s Guide for Charities (2005)

Health

Organized events at theme parks or recreational areas create fewer problems than those that are self-catered and supervised by local sponsors.

Every event must be drug-, alcohol-, and smoke-free. Careful consideration must be given to food handling, restroom facilities, rest areas and availability of personnel certified in first aid and CPR.

Legal Issues

Parents’ Approval and Student Waiver forms should be completed for each student participant. The form can be found in the Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide.

It is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to participate in any form of gambling (including casino activities).

Information on how to conduct a legal raffle can be obtained by going to the California Attorney General’s website, www.ag.ca.gov. (Refer to the California Attorney General’s Guide for Charities and §320.5 Gambling: Charitable Raffles effective July 1, 2001.)

Raffles may include but are not limited to 50/50 raffles, donation drawings, ducky derby and cow chip bingo.

Remember that it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to possess, obtain or consume beer or alcohol. It is unlawful to possess, offer or sell any controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant on school premises. No person may sell, furnish, or procure intoxicating liquor (including beer) for anyone under the age of 21. It is illegal for anyone to possess any controlled substance without a valid prescription. (See Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide.)

PTA Unit Procedures

A PTA sponsoring or cosponsoring a graduation or prom night activity must follow all California State PTA financial procedures and the Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide.

The association must vote to sponsor or cosponsor the program, and the action must be recorded in the minutes. The president appoints the program committee, subject to ratification by the executive board. All committee and subcommittee members must be members of the PTA (Committee Development and Guidelines).

Honorary Service Awards

StoreHonorary Service Awards (HSA) are available to recognize the service and dedication of both individuals and organizations. They are awarded only by unit, council, district PTA and California State PTA, and presented by PTA representatives at PTA-sponsored meetings or at functions of allied groups.

The HSA Program includes the Very Special Person Award, the Honorary Service Award, the Continuing Service Award, the Golden Oak Service Award, the Outstanding Teacher Award, the Outstanding Administrator Award and donations to the HSA Program. A person may receive more than one of any of these awards and in any order.

Funds contributed to the HSA Program provide resources for the California Scholarship, Grant and Leadership Development Programs (Scholarships and Grants).

Individuals or organizations can make donations:

  • As a contribution;
  • To say thank you or to honor an individual for service given;
  • In tribute to a person who already has received an Honorary Lifetime Membership, Honorary Service Award, Continuing Service Award or Golden Oak Service Award;
  • In tribute to an organization or group of people for service given; or
  • In memoriam.

An acknowledgment card or certificate suitable for framing will be sent, upon request, when a minimum donation of $10.00 or more is made (Donation Form).

For additional information, contact the California State PTA Honorary Service Awards Committee chairman at hsa@capta.org or 916.440.1985 ext. 327.

A person may receive more than one HSA, more than one CSA, or more than one Golden Oak Service Award, or may have more than one donation made in his/her name.

Responsibilities

The unit HSA chairman, with a committee appointed by the president, shall

  • Study the various types of awards, the donation amounts and the criteria for selecting honorees for specific awards.
  • Publicize to the membership that the HSA selection committee will be meeting and ask for suggestions for honorees. (A flier may be distributed requesting names and information.)
  • Meet for the specific purpose of selecting honorees. All proceedings must be kept confidential. Budget allocations must be observed.
  • Order specific awards using the order forms in the California State PTA Toolkit. Pins may be ordered at the same time. (Allow up to two weeks for delivery.)
  • Arrange for presentation of awards at a meeting as determined by the executive board and the program committee (e.g., at a Founders Day program meeting or end-of-the-year luncheon).
  • Devise an innovative way to present the award(s) using a poem, skit or other unique way to praise the honorees’ accomplishments. Be sure to mention that the donation made to the California State PTA Scholarship and Grant Program in each honoree’s name assists in the education of other individuals.
  • Arrange for families and friends of honorees to attend the presentation.
  • Give a copy of the biographical presentation to the honoree. Assign a committee member to take pictures for the honorees. Retain copies of the pictures, programs and biographies.
  • Obtain Media Release Statement signature of recipient to forward biography and photos taken at the award event to California State PTA.

     “By accepting this award and submitting biography and photograph(s) of the awards event to California State PTA, you hereby grant and assign California State PTA and its legal representatives the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish for editorial, trade, advertising or any other purpose and in any manner and medium, including website and Internet promotion, all photographic, video, and digital images of you and your guests taken while in attendance at the awards event. You hereby release California State PTA and its legal representatives from all claims and liability relating to said photographs, video and digital images.”

  • Write a summary of the event and place it in the chairman’s procedure book.
  • Maintain accurate records of all awards in a permanent file.

The committee should be:

  • Appointed early in the officer’s term to allow time for planning and ordering awards.
  • Composed of different members each year.
  • Representative of the school’s community.
  • Composed of an uneven number (five is suggested).

The applicants being considered should be recognized for outstanding service to children and youth, and not necessarily for routine, assigned responsibilities or for retirement.

It is recommended that you avoid establishing a pattern such as always presenting an award to the outgoing president or retiring faculty members.

Remember to consider those who work behind the scenes, quietly and efficiently serving youth.

Very Special Person Award

The Very Special Person (VSP) Award may be given to individuals or PTA constituent organizations to recognize having contributed to the school community in a special way. This award is available by a contribution of $15.00 or more. A VSP pin is available at an additional cost (Honorary Service Award Order Form).

Honorary Service Award

An Honorary Service Award (HSA) may be given to an individual or organization in special recognition of outstanding service to children and youth. This award is available by a contribution of $30.00 in the name of the recipient. An HSA pin (tack back) is available at an additional cost (Honorary Service Award Order Form).

Continuing Service Award

A Continuing Service Award (CSA) may be given to an individual or organization in special recognition of continued service to children and youth. The recipient may or may not have received a California State PTA Honorary Service Award. This award is available by a contribution of $30.00 in the name of the recipient. A CSA pin is available for an additional cost (Honorary Service Award Order Form).

Golden Oak Service Award

The Golden Oak Service Award is the most prestigious PTA award in California. This award may be given to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the welfare of children and youth in the school or community. This award is available by a contribution of $60.00 in the name of the recipient. A Golden Oak Service pin (tack back) is available at an additional cost (Honorary Service Award Order Form).

Outstanding Teacher Award

The Outstanding Teacher Award may be given to a teacher in special recognition for outstanding service in positively impacting the lives and welfare of children and youth in the PTA, school, or community (Honorary Service Award Order Form).

Outstanding Administrator Award

The Outstanding Administrator Award may be given to an administrator in special recognition for outstanding service in positively impacting the lives and welfare of children and youth in the PTA, school, or community (Honorary Service Award Order Form).

Donations

Donations may be given by PTAs/PTSAs or by individuals in tribute to a person, a group or in memoriam. The donation may be made in any amount. An acknowledgment card or certificate, as requested, will be sent when a donation of $10.00 or more is made. Anyone or any group may donate to the HSA program fund; the fund is not limited to contributions by PTAs (In Memoriam or Tribute Donation Form).

Evaluate Success of the Plan

A final evaluation report should include (Evaluation Form):

  • Problem statement;
  • Summary of the action plan;
  • Changes effected relative to the identified concern; by whom;
  • Type and extent of school and community involvement;
  • Budget and actual dollars spent;
  • Project completion (On time? Within budget?);
  • Continuing action needed;
  • Continuing action planned; and
  • A final report presented to the PTA executive board and general membership.

How to Make a Study

A study is in order whenever the association (membership) is concerned about a subject or an issue. A study committee must gather facts, investigate carefully and prepare a final report. The possible reasons for making a study are many.

Purposes of a Study

The purposes of a study are to:

Acquire knowledge about a subject;

Respond to a concern of the membership in a particular area (e.g., education, health, safety, community problems, state or local legislation);

Respond to a need or problem;

Gather all available facts and information before acting on an issue that concerns the membership;

Develop information on a subject or issue that the association believes should be presented to the California State PTA Board of Managers, government agencies (e.g., school board, city council, board of supervisors), other groups or the public; or

Develop a resolution for the California State PTA Convention.

Initiate a Study

Initiate a study with a:

Motion from the association membership;

Request from an individual member;

Recommendation from the executive board;

Recommendation from a committee of the association; or

Request from an allied agency, organization or group.

Study Committee

The president appoints the chairman and members of the committee subject to ratification by the executive board. The number and composition may be specified in the motion creating the committee. (If this is done, the phrase “and others as appointed by the president” must always be included as protection against oversight.)

The committee should be composed of at least five but not more than nine people. Members may include:

  • PTA members, officers and chairmen whose duties fall within the subject matter of the study.
  • Administrators, teachers, students (if appropriate), consultants, and/or community members.
  • People with differing points of view on the subject.
  • The association president as an ex officio member.
  • The committee secretary may be appointed by the president or the committee chairman or elected by the committee at its first meeting.

Committee expenses are legitimate PTA expenses.

Study Committee Procedures

Keep minutes to avoid repetition in subsequent meetings, to ensure that all items in the plan of work are covered, to avoid omissions in the final report, and as a record of the committee’s work.

Identify the subject(s) and/or issue(s) to be included in the study.

Set goals. Will the committee gather information, or will it try to develop recommendations for action? If “information only,” how will the information be used? How much time will be needed?

Decide the scope of the study. How much information will be needed to reach the goals? What areas of the subject/issue will the committee try to cover?

Use resources such as films, newspapers, publications, appropriate agencies, and experts in the field of study. All sources should be verified to ensure the accuracy of the information.

Assign responsibilities for research. Each member of the committee should have a specific assignment. Subcommittees may be helpful in completing the research. All research should be available to all members of the committee.

Ensure that all areas of interest on the subject or issue (within the defined scope) are covered. Personal views must not be allowed to intrude.

Conclusions

All possible solutions, conclusions, etc., should be listed with an evaluation of how they will affect the subject or issue.

Recommended Solutions Should be Tested

Are they in accordance with the Purposes and basic policies of the PTA?

Is there a strong possibility they will accomplish the desired results?

Are they practical? Are the necessary resources (whatever they may be) available?

Will the proposed solution create other problems that need to be resolved before implementation?

Are the recommended solutions in the best interest of children and youth?

Do the solutions completely address the subject or issue as defined in the scope, or is more research needed?

The Study Report

The study report should:

Be written by the chairman (the secretary may assist) and approved by the committee;

Be submitted first to the PTA executive board and then to the association;

Include an appendix listing all reference materials used and any other resources;

Include any recommendations for further study, implementation or action; and

Include the time requirements involved in implementing recommendations.

When a Study Is Completed

The association or executive board may refer a study report to another group, although that group had no part in initiating the original study.

Studies forwarded to California State PTA should be sent through channels—unit to council (if in council) to district PTA.

When appropriate, all studies should be submitted to the council (if in council) and to the district PTA, so the information will be available to other units.

All studies referred to another group or submitted through channels should be accompanied by a study letter.

Following the final report, the study committee ceases to function unless given further responsibilities by the executive board or association.

Chairman and Committee Procedures

These procedures have been developed to assist unit PTA officers and chairmen in carrying out their responsibilities (Committee Development and Guidelines). The president, as an effective leader, will see that officers, chairmen and other volunteers receive copies of their respective job descriptions from this Toolkit as soon as possible (Job Descriptions).

Based on goals established for the year, the president and the executive board determine which programs and projects should be implemented and which might be undertaken, remembering that all projects must be approved by  the membership.

While every PTA operates within the Purposes and basic policies of the PTA, each individual unit will become involved in programs and projects according to its interests, its needs, and its volunteers. No PTA can be expected to do everything.

Chairman Duties

Convene a committee.

Serve the executive board, according to the bylaws.

Provide directional leadership for the committee.

Set an optimistic and enthusiastic tone.

Develop and maintain a procedure book (Procedure Book).

Refer to Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units as needed.

Assist and/or accompany the PTA president to meetings with decision-makers from the school, community, or city government.

Submit a written/oral report at each executive board meeting. Include all committee recommendations and a written financial accounting of all monies received and disbursed to implement approved recommendations.

Keep the committee focused on making appropriate recommendations.

Ensure that the committee assignment is completed and the action reported back to the board association.

Become acquainted with the school staff, school district staff, and decision-makers, including members of the site council and school board.

Survey parents to determine interests and needs in the home, community, and school.

Develop a program plan. Ensure that the plan meets California State PTA insurance requirements. See Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide for allowable, discouraged, and prohibited activities.

Coordinate PTA activities with the school calendar and principal.

Present the plan to the PTA board for approval.

Plan all events well in advance, with a minimum timeline of three months.

Educate parents and the community at an informational meeting.

Encourage membership to actively participate in PTA programs.

Collaborate with other PTAs and community agencies to obtain information, materials, and speakers.

Network with other PTAs in the school district to coordinate events.

Communicate with council and district PTA counterparts.

Share information prepared and distributed by the council and district PTA, California State PTA and National PTA.

Publicize activities. Use the newsletter and website to promote, educate, and inform. Contact the media or enlist the help of the PTA public relations coordinator (Tips for Promoting the PTA).

Attend council and district PTA trainings, California State PTA convention and National PTA convention.

Keep fundraisers simple and low stress.

Consolidate PTA activities with school events that bring out parents and students.

Plan more low-key, family-oriented social events.

Evaluate the program and document lessons learned for future program chairmen.

Considerations for Year-Round Schools

Make sure all tracks are represented in the yearly planning meeting.

Schedule activities and association meetings evenly among tracks.

Avoid holding special events when the treasurer or chairman of that event is off-track.

Schedule programs (e.g., Reflections Program) and fundraisers to cover all on-track and off-track times.

Creating an event

Areas for PTA Involvement
Chairman and Committee Procedures

If the event is held in collaboration with community organizations or other PTAs, each participating unit, council or district PTA should follow the proper approval procedures specified below.

California State PTA strongly urges unit, council or district PTAs to refrain from serving alcoholic beverages at PTA functions. PTAs may not engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages. (See the Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide, Red Section, Alcohol; and Toolkit, Alcohol and PTA Events)

Preliminary Planning

Begin six months in advance, if possible.

Discuss and obtain approval to hold an event from the PTA executive board and principal or school representative.

Ensure the event will not conflict with other unit, council or district PTA observances.

Obtain a vote of approval for the event at a meeting of the association. Include a motion to disburse monies to cover the estimated cost involved.

If being held off campus, obtain permission for facility use from appropriate manager. If asked to sign a Hold Harmless Agreement, contact the California State PTA insurance broker.

PTA president appoints the event chairman and committee. Determine the goals of this committee. Articulate what the committee hopes to accomplish with the activities.

Appoint several members to the planning committee. Unit bylaws and standing rules may have information to guide the project. If possible, include the principal or a faculty member, the public relations/publications coordinator (if there is one), and a student (Event Planning Worksheet).

Review event material—make copies as needed. From previous chairman or committee, obtain the procedure book, National PTA Quick-Reference Guide, Our Children, and PTA in California.

Discuss budget needs with president and treasurer. Ideally, the budget should be planned with a line item for the event. The planned activities must stay within the budget. If necessary, the community may be asked to partner by donating materials, hospitality items and perhaps even a grant or sponsor to underwrite the planned activity or event. Be realistic in estimating the costs. Remember to include possible custodial costs, publicity, and postage.

Decide on a focus area, if any. Brainstorm ideas with the committee. Decide on activities that have the best chance for good participation from the student-body, the parents, and the community. If the PTA has never held this event before, do not overwhelm the faculty with activities.

Keep in mind past traditions but also investigate new ways to hold an appropriate event that will fit the school and community.

Select a theme as the major focus, and decide on the type of program (e.g., family dinner, musical program).

As early as possible, check school calendar and decide on a date.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that disabled persons must be reasonably accommodated by modifying policies, making physical changes and obtaining equipment to assist their participation in any activity. For PTA meetings/events, this could include seating to accommodate an attendant accompanying a member or reserved seating in a location to accommodate a member’s special need, providing written handouts to supplement discussion and/or providing qualified readers or interpreters for individuals having a hearing or sight impairment.

Discuss rules and expectations with facility management. Put all agreements in writing. Determine if permission or permits from school district or city are needed.

Notify parents and community to “save the date” for the event. Also send notes to past and present PTA presidents, leaders and award recipients, and school district and community members.

Notify staff, explaining event goals and requesting their support.

Schedule at least three committee meetings prior to event.

Never sign a Hold Harmless Agreement on behalf of the unit, council or district PTA until the California State PTA insurance broker has been consulted. (Hold Harmless Agreement)

Transportation Planning

In situations where PTA sponsors activities and secures transportation, such as “Grad Night” (hereinafter referred to as “events”), the PTA must provide accessible transportation at no additional cost to students with mobility disabilities in compliance with the requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Local PTA units shall coordinate with their local school and/or school district to obtain updated lists of accessible transportation providers if such lists exist. Questions from PTA units, districts or councils regarding a request for accessible transportation should first be directed to the school district. Additional questions may be directed to the California State PTA Vice President for Leadership Services.

When local PTA units secure transportation for participating students for events, local PTA units must comply with the ADA which does not permit services that are different or separate from that provided to other individuals without disabilities, unless such action is necessary to provide an individual with a disability or class of such individuals with a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation or other opportunity that is as effective as that provided to others.

If the local PTA unit secures accessible transportation to events, as described above, and it fails to arrive, the PTA shall make every reasonable effort to secure alternative accessible transportation to enable students with mobility disabilities to still attend. In no instance shall a local PTA unit inform students with mobility disabilities that they must secure their own transportation.

A student with a disability who requires a one-to-one aide as part of his or her Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) shall be permitted to attend any PTA event with his or her aide, as the student’s family deems necessary. Further, no fee shall be charged for any PTA event ticket for the student’s aide. For any event where a student requires an aide, the cost of the aide’s transportation shall be borne by the PTA. PTA may ask to be reimbursed by the event venue, affiliated school and/or school district.

Event Development

Begin three months in advance, if possible. Develop a timeline utilizing check sheets. Assign committee members specific duties.

Service Providers/Speakers/Program Participants (At Least Two People)

One person should be designated as the contact person on invitation letters.

One person should assist with paperwork (Service Provider/Speakers/Program Participants Check List).

Publicity Campaign (At Least One Person)
Publicity may include the use of one or more of the following:

News releases
PTA newsletter articles
Posters for placement at local business locations
Radio/cable television PSA “spots”
Website promotion
Email alerts

Handouts/Fliers (At Least One Person)
Handouts may include the following:

Fliers to parents
Attendee record form
Permission slips, if necessary
Service provider station signs

Operations (At Least One Person)
Responsibilities include:

Overseeing facility, equipment, and overall operation.
Checking all participating service provider/speaker/program participant requirements.
Coordinating with school district and school custodian.
Ensuring all equipment is in working order.
Consulting with appropriate facility management.
Considering whether additional service providers are needed and reviewing other logistic issues.
Cleaning up after the event.

Outreach (At Least One Person)
This committee member will

Organize volunteers and coordinate hospitality.

Select invitees from the local area. Send a letter of invitation requesting participation, including a response due date.

Pre-Crunch

Begin two months in advance.

Send follow-up letter to confirm service provider participation, including a map of the school and parking location (See Sample Participant Response Form below).

Develop fliers to inform parents and community of the event.

Develop news releases.

Request equipment from school district or facility manager to meet service provider needs.

 

SAMPLE PARTICIPANT RESPONSE FORM

(Name) PTA/PTSA (Program)

Thank you for agreeing to participate in the (Name) PTA/PTSA (Program). Please mail the completed form to (Name) PTA/PTSA, (Address) no later than (date).

__ Yes, I will participate in the (name) PTA/PTSA (Program) on (date).

 Organization/Participant Name: _______________________________________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________________________

Daytime Phone: (_______)_______________
Evening Phone: (_______)_______________
Email: ______________________________

Service and information to be provided:
Please include a detailed description of the services you will provide.

__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________

Please list any equipment, audio-visual, space or special requirements you have.

__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________

__ No, I will be unable to participate in the (name) PTA/PTSA (Program), but I would be interested in providing related materials. Please list materials which will be provided.

_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
Fig. 7-1 Sample

Crunch Time

Begin one month in advance.

Be sure to have sufficient tables and chairs as required by participating service providers. This information will be available upon receipt of response form.

Provide custodian/facility manager with a detailed drawing of the layout for tables and chairs.

Plan for access for the disabled.

Recruit and schedule volunteers. Utilize nursing schools, dental schools, and public health agency health promoters.

Plan refreshments, such as coffee and donuts in the morning or a light lunch for all participating service providers and volunteers.

Check to ensure all equipment requirements can be met.

Distribute event fliers and email announcements to parents and community.

Prepare service provider station signs.

Day of the Event

Have nametags ready for all service providers/speakers/program participants and volunteers.

Check to make sure hospitality area is in order and refreshments prepared.

Check setup of the event stations and all audio-visual equipment.

Welcome the service providers/speakers/program participants and be sure to give them an evaluation sheet (Evaluation Form) that should be collected before they leave at the end of the event.

Have volunteers sign in, including addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses.

Have at least two designated troubleshooters for the day, and make sure that the service providers and volunteers know who they are.

Clean up the facility and leave it in as good or better condition than it was.

After the Event

Tabulate the evaluations.

Send thank you notes to all participating service providers/speakers/program participants and volunteers.

Write an event report and place it in the procedure book. Include ideas for changes gleaned from the evaluations and comments from participants.

  • Did the activities help to accomplish goals?
  • Was there good participation from the faculty and the parents?
  • Did the kids enjoy it?
  • What are the recommendations for next year?

Glossary

This section defines or explains terms that financial officers and chairmen may encounter in their PTA work.

  • Approval by Membership – The requirement that all expenditures, programs and projects, including those specified in the budget, must obtain approval and/or ratification by the membership. All approval of expenditures, programs and projects MUST be recorded in the minutes.
  • Authorization for Payment – An authorization for payment documents approval to pay bills for services or supplies, or reimbursement to a member for expenses. After approval by the association, the completed authorization for payment permits the treasurer to write checks. All bills, receipts and invoices should be attached to approved authorization.
  • Bylaws – Specific rules of operation for the orderly conduct of business adopted by vote of the members. All PTA bylaws have certain specified, starred sections in common which cannot be changed. Any change in bylaws requires approval of the state parliamentarian, a 30-day prior notice and a two-thirds vote of the membership.
  • Cash Verification Form – A form to document receipt of coins, currency and checks from membership, fundraisers, and donations, which protects and safeguards volunteers’ handling of PTA funds.
  • Carry-over Funds – These funds represent the amount which is set aside to begin operations at the beginning of the next PTA fiscal year, prior to the onset of fundraising activities.
  • Certificate of Insurance – A document issued by the insurance broker certifying that an insurance policy covering general liability is in force. A Certificate of Insurance is included in the Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide mailed to all unit, council, and district PTAs in good standing. A copy may be obtained by contacting the California State PTA insurance broker.
  • Channels – The formal communication route through the association to ensure that each level within the association is informed. In PTA, the channel is from the unit to the council (if in council) or from the unit to the district PTA (when there is no council), from the council to the district PTA, and from the district PTA to California State PTA.
  • Commingled Funds – Funds from two organizations deposited together. Because a unit is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association, it must comply with all Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements, regulations and laws. The IRS considers all funds in PTA accounts to belong to the association regardless of source. A PTA must handle only those funds over which it has full control and the total amount must be declared as gross income to the PTA. All funds in the PTA account must have association approval for disbursement.
  • Contract – A legally enforceable agreement between two or more persons or organizations. Contracts must be approved by the PTA membership before being signed by two elected officers, one of whom must be the president.
  • Contributions – Donations of money, property, or services received by the PTA from individuals or businesses. PTAs must follow Internal Revenue Service guidelines for receipts for contributions.
  • Embezzlement – Stealing of money entrusted into one’s care by means of fraud for one’s own use.
  • Facilities Use Permit – A permit required by most school districts that when approved authorizes the PTA to use school site facilities.
  • Fiscal Year – The financial accounting period established by the PTA, and identified in the Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article XIV, Section 1, as a time for the association to close its financial books and records for the past 12-month period. The IRS is notified of the fiscal year at the time of organization when IRS Form SS-4 is submitted.
  • Founders Day Freewill Offering – A freewill offering commemorating the founders of PTA. Contributions are forwarded through channels to California State PTA and set aside in a special fund for leadership services. The contributions are considered as “funds not belonging to the unit, council, or district” and are not included as income in the budget.
  • Gifts to Individuals – A personal gift to a PTA member or school staff. Gifts to individuals cannot be paid for with PTA funds. Personal gifts include gift cards, gifts for baby showers, secretary’s day, bereavements, weddings, or birthdays. If the unit wishes to recognize an individual, donations must be collected as freewill offerings and the money maintained separately from PTA funds.
  • Gifts to Schools – Gifts to the school that benefit the largest number of students possible. Be sure to check with the school district before purchasing any materials for the school. Gifts should be in the form of a donation, presented and accepted by the school board at a school board meeting, and recorded in the school board minutes. Always use a fiduciary agreement.
  • Good Standing – The term applies to units, councils and districts that have met all requirements specified in the bylaws, which includes remittance of insurance premiums and membership per capita to California State PTA by the established due dates.
  • Grants – A specific set of dollars given by businesses, foundations, and corporations to an organization to perform specific functions. Projects for which PTA is seeking grants must promote the Purposes of the PTA and be relevant to the goals of PTA.
  • Gross Receipts – The total amount of receipts before any deductions are taken or expenses are paid. For the purpose of completing the IRS Form 990, monies forwarded through channels to the California State PTA office are not considered gross receipts. This includes membership per capita, Founders Day freewill offerings, and insurance premiums.
  • Hold Harmless Agreement – An agreement in which the signing party assumes responsibility for all acts and all liability for any injuries that occur related to an event. PTA MUST NOT SIGN A HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENT. California State PTA insurance does not cover vendors, concessionaires, or service providers; these entities must provide Evidence of Insurance to each PTA unless annual Evidence of Insurance has been filed with the California State PTA Insurance Broker. A Hold Harmless Agreement may be found in the Insurance and Loss Prevention Guide.
  • Membership Per Capita – The amount of money that must be forwarded through channels for each membership received in the unit in order to be considered a unit in good standing by California State PTA.
  • Minutes – The permanent legal record of all action taken by the association and the executive board. All financial reports become a part of the minutes.
  • Noncommercial Policy – A policy requiring that the name PTA, a registered service mark, or the names of PTA officers shall not be used in conjunction with the commercial activities of other organizations including, but not limited to, the promotion of their goods and services.
  • Ratification – The approval by the membership of an action taken by the PTA executive board as specified in Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article VIII, Section 2c.
  • Reconciliation of Funds – The process of bringing into agreement the bank balance as shown on the bank statement, the checkbook ledger, and the check register. The purpose is to ensure that the bank records and the association’s financial records are correct, to identify outstanding checks, and to determine the actual balance against which future checks may be drawn.
  • Reimbursement of Expenses – Allowable out-of-pocket officers’ expenses shown as a line item on the budget adopted by the association are reimbursable. Reimbursement is made upon the submission of an expense statement and/or receipts.
  • Sales Tax – A tax imposed on the purchase of products. Units are considered consumers by the California State Board of Equalization and they are not required to charge sales tax on merchandise sold. Units do pay sales tax on the price of merchandise purchased for resale or use.
  • Scrip – A coupon which may be redeemed in lieu of using cash at the store that issued the scrip. Scrip is purchased, usually from grocery stores, in large amounts for a discount off the face value. The PTA sells the scrip at the full value, raising funds for the unit. Many companies now offer electronic e-scrip.
  • Scholarships – Funds to assist students in furthering their educational objectives. The scholarship program, including the amount and number of scholarships to be awarded, must be approved by the membership.
  • Sponsorship – Financial support received from a business. The law permits a PTA to receive corporate sponsorship income tax free, if the sponsorship is linked to a specific event and the event is held once per year. The PTA gives the corporate sponsor an acknowledgment of thanks in return for the sponsorship.
  • Unallocated Reserve Funds – The amount remaining after making allocations for budgeted programs and activities, and may be used to cover any unexpected or unplanned expenses in the current fiscal year. The association must adopt a budget amendment to transfer funds from Unallocated Reserves to a specific budget category prior to disbursing funds.