Taking Personal Responsibility for Cybersecurity

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

“The line between our online and offline lives is indistinguishable. In these tech-fueled times, our homes, societal well-being, economic prosperity and nation’s security are impacted by the internet,” the National Cybersecurity Alliance

The truth of that statement has really come home to families and schools in the last 18 months. We have all become increasingly dependent on the internet to learn, to connect with each other, to shop for necessities, and to stay entertained. That makes Cybersecurity Awareness Month an ideal chance for families to learn more about what they can personally do to stay safe online. 

Start With Some Basics for Individuals

It’s easy to think of cybersecurity as a topic that’s just of concern to large companies and organizations, not something individuals can do much about. A central goal of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, however, is to point out all that we can do to keep ourselves and our information safe on the internet.

For example, there’s a list of basic steps you personally can take to keep your information safe, including: 

  • Use long, unique passphrases (they needn’t be complex) that are easy for you to remember and at least 12 characters long. 
  • Use 2-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication (such as a one-time code sent to your mobile device) whenever it’s offered.
  • Don’t click on links or download anything that comes from a stranger or that you were not expecting. 
  • Keep all software on your internet connected devices current to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware.
  • Limit what you do on public WiFi and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. 

These are just some of the recommendations you’ll find in this two-page guide to cybersecurity basics. You can do your part for cybersecurity awareness by sharing it with others in your PTA, your family, and your community.

Resources for Keeping Kids Safe Online

Acknowledging the increase in internet activity brought on by the pandemic, there’s also a Tip Sheet about Online Learning meant for parents and students: Security Tips for K12 Online Learning.

As kids get older, they need to take greater responsibility for their own cybersecurity. Thankfully there are some great resources available to help families have the “tech talk” about online privacy, and even a guide for helping kids learn about cybersecurity careers. These would be great resources to share. 

You’ll find all this and much more at the official Cybersecurity Awareness Month website: Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Stay Safe Online

In addition, National PTA, in collaboration with LifeLock has developed a web-based tool to facilitate parent-child conversations about being responsible with the use of technology. It’s called The Smart Talk.

Six Tips for Building Your Local PTA Leadership

Children are back in school, but for many of us it feels like we are still a long way from a full pandemic recovery. One place many PTA leaders feel that is in the volunteers on their local boards, or should we say the lack of volunteers. Filling a vacant board position or committee chair is important to your plans this year and it’s also key to building leadership for the long-term vitality of your association.

Here are some ideas for how to connect with your members and encourage them to take on a leadership role.

Hone your leadership team’s skills.

PTAs throughout California are seeking individuals who will step back into the limelight by not only joining PTA, but volunteering in some capacity to support their school and its families, and further their PTA goals.

Having knowledgeable, welcoming leaders will encourage your PTA members to join the team. Training develops officer leadership and teamwork skills, so do take the time to find and participate in any trainings available from your District PTA. But first, review Tips for Leaders from the California State PTA. 

In addition, the 2021-22 Welcome Packet local leaders received from California State PTA includes RUNNING YOUR PTA…Made Easy. This 24 page, easy to read document is your roadmap for successful goal setting, executive board and association meetings, leadership practices, officer tips, inclusivity, finances, bylaws, and calendar planning. Share it with your board via this link (or this link for the Spanish version). You can also request copies through your District PTA president. The California State PTA “Welcome Packet Homepage” includes specific items for your PTA leaders: president, treasurer, parliamentarian, communications. 

Consider doing less this year.

The executive board should consider if past supported events and fundraisers are too intimidating this first year with students back on campus. It may be wise to scale back the number of events to between three and five for the remainder of the year, and ask for participation. Also, be sure to include a social, fun event. Your community’s social well being is important, just like student social well being. Events done well will encourage others to step up.

Make participation easy.

More members may be working from home, but don’t assume they have more time. After being home bound some are hesitant socially to step out. 

Look at ways to divide the work into smaller, less threatening tasks with shorter timeframes. For example, subdivide the hospitality chair role into the events: winter, spring, and summer association meetings, Founders Day, Staff Appreciation, etc. For fundraising consider a chair for each activity. 

Refer to the California State PTA Toolkit for more than 28 suggested Job Descriptions for PTA leaders. You can adjust these to suit your goal. 

Use the buddy system to get the work done.

Every PTA association officially needs to have a president, secretary, and treasurer. If your PTA doesn’t have an executive vice president, corresponding secretary or financial secretary, these three positions, already included in the standard bylaws, were created to provide support and divide the work. Updating your bylaws is easy using California State PTA’s electronic eBylaws program to add these positions permanently. In the meantime, the president may appoint an assistant to any officer for support, with or without attendance and full voting rights at executive board meetings. Consider these guidelines when appointing committee chairs and assistants.

Expand your reach through purposeful inclusion.

Does your PTA embrace individuals included in your school community? 

If families at your school speak many languages, seek volunteers who will help engage those families. Parents of students with special needs often feel left out when they cannot leave their children at home with a child care provider. Ask your officers and school staff which tasks can be done at home by eager volunteers.

Don’t forget students have great talent and energy. Middle school and high school students can be PTA members and they can be volunteers as well. They can get a lot out of that involvement.

PTAs can and should be creative. 

More often than not, the new idea you have has been done before. Reach out and connect with nearby PTAs and your council and district PTA to share ideas and success stories and pool your resources.

It’s Tax Time for PTAs: Connect with us for help

Need help heading off tax issues before they start? Need help reaching the right contacts at the various government agencies who can help expedite processing of paperwork? We’re here for you. California State PTA has a dedicated tax support specialist available to offer tips and direct you to help. 

California State PTA also offers tax workshops/filing help at various trainings and has helped hundreds of units file their postcards and charitable trust renewals over the last few years. While we can’t file the long-form taxes for you, we are here to support you in the process.

As a part of the PTA organization, you are able to use File990.org at a discounted rate. Starting in the 2021-22 term, the 990-EZ form must be filed electronically only and this access will save you money.

Last year, the Attorney General asked for additional information from all of our postcard filing units. (PTAs that make less than $50,000 a year are eligible to file taxes by a simple electronic postcard.) The required forms can be confusing because the AG’s terminology doesn’t match up to what most people call things in their budgets/treasurer’s reports. That is why we created our annotated RRF-1 and CT-TR-1 forms. Our annotated forms help you translate the AG  information making it much easier to complete without all the stress.

It is really important that if you get a letter from any government agency, you take it seriously, but don’t panic! Contact your district PTA. They can advise you or help you get in touch with one of us at the California State PTA. 

If you have questions, a great place to start is by visiting the Tax Filing Support Center on our website. 

Help with tax filings is one compelling reason that more than 3,000 schools in California choose PTA. 

Interesting tax related fact and added benefit of your PTA status:
A special exemption for sales tax collection is granted by the state of California specifically for parent teacher organizations chartered as part of the California State PTA. You are not required to collect state sales tax on items your PTA sells because you are considered “consumers of products” you are selling. In this case, it means even though you are selling something, the profits are being consumed for your charitable purpose in your budget. Most other non-profits are not exempt and have to collect and send in sales tax to the state.
*
Note: This doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay sales tax when you purchase items for your PTA, just that you don’t have to collect it on your sales.

2021-22 Financial Information & Resources for your PTA

PTA Leaders:

To help you successfully run the financial side of your PTA, every year California State PTA compiles a packet of financial information and resources.

These materials include:

  • Tax filing information
  • Workers’ compensation insurance information
  • TOTEM e-membership system information
  • 2022 Convention save-the-date flier
  • PTA Store flier, with new items
  • CETF flier, with information about how to get low-cost or free internet access and computers
  • The PTA Insurance Guide
  • Much more!

There are three ways to get the 2021-22 Financial Mailing:

  1. Wait for a hard copy to arrive in your mailbox late October.
  2. View or download the entire Financial Mailing in PDF format:
    • Get the main packet in English here, or in Spanish here.
    • Get the 2022 PTA Insurance Guide (saved in a separate PDF) in English here, or in Spanish here.
  3. View or download just the sections you need in PDF format:

PTA Stands with Families, Schools and Communities Impacted by California Wildfires

Media Contacts:

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org / 916.440.1985

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 4, 2019 – National PTA President Leslie Boggs and California State PTA President Celia Jaffe issued the following statement regarding the wildfires in California:

“PTA is deeply concerned for all our members and the families, schools and communities affected by the wildfires across California. We empathize with and stand ready to support those dealing with loss of property, safety and routines.

“As the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the U.S., it is our duty to help families and school communities as they rebuild and recover. We remain committed to doing everything we can to assist those affected and help restore learning environments as quickly as possible.

“PTA offers resources to help families and educators have conversations with children to help them deal with emotions of fear, confusion, sadness and anger they may feel after incidents like the wildfires. These resources and other tips can be accessed at PTA.org.

“PTA also offers a Disaster Relief Fund to respond to tragedies that grievously disrupt a school or education system. We encourage PTAs and schools impacted by the wildfires, blackout and school closures to apply for support from the fund. We also urge everyone to donate to the fund to help support PTAs and schools in need.

“PTA members work every day to give our children, families and school communities what they need to thrive. Following this type of event, our mission becomes that much more important. And as Thanksgiving approaches, the need to give has never been greater. We know we can count on our PTA members across the country to help meet the needs caused by the wildfires.”

Meet the 2019-21 Board of Directors

Media Contacts:

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org / (714) 423-0716

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
hippolito@capta.org

SACRAMENTO – Celia Jaffe, a resident of Huntington Beach, is the new president of California State PTA, leading the association of over 700,000 members in advocating for the education, health and welfare of California’s 9 million children.

Jaffe was elected to the 2019-21 term of office, which began on July 1. In her new role, Jaffe will serve as chief executive officer of the California State PTA and chair of the Board of Directors. California State PTA is the nation’s largest and highest profile child-advocacy organization and strives to connect families, schools and communities.

Jaffe has spent her entire life working with and for children and supporting public education, including teaching high school English and serving as a school board trustee.

“PTAs all over California strive to build connections between families and schools and to fight for the well-being of all children, and I am excited to support and enhance those important efforts. California State PTA also brings the advocacy voice of our membership to policy-makers at all levels, and I cherish that role as well,” said Jaffe.

Jaffe has served the PTA at the local, regional, and state levels in many roles, including president of Fourth District PTA (Orange County) and statewide vice president for education. Her work with PTA has been focused on helping parents to understand the new state dashboard, advocating for a full-curriculum and and empowering schools and families to work together.

She and her husband have two adult children, and she has been involved in PTA since they were in elementary school.

“I see the positive results PTA makes in local communities where families are truly partners in educating our children, and the voice that PTA has in Sacramento making a difference for all kids,” said Jaffe. “The best byproduct of participating in PTA all these years is working alongside wonderful people who give of themselves in this volunteer organization.”

California State PTA has a long tradition of speaking up and speaking out on behalf of all children and families at national, state, regional and local levels. Joining your local PTA is a great way to support your child’s education. Learn more at www.capta.org/join.

2019 – 2021 California State PTA Board of Directors

  • Celia Jaffe, President
  • Carol Green, President-elect
  • Maria Steck, Vice President for Leadership Services
  • Michael Morgan, Vice President for Membership Services
  • Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
  • Heidi Goddi, Vice President for Convention
  • Mariaelena Huizar, Vice President for Health & Community Concerns
  • Lea Darrah, Vice President for Education
  • Deborah Johnson, Vice President for Family Engagement
  • Jeff Price, Secretary
  • Melinda Kirkland, Treasurer
  • Tim Davidson, Parliamentarian
  • Shereen Walter, Director of Legislation
  • Otis Cross, Chair of the District Presidents
  • Sherry Skelly Griffith, Executive Director

Summer PTA To-Do List

  1. The board should have a summer meeting to get to know each other and begin planning for the new term
  2. Make sure that the annual financial report is completed — then file your taxes!
  3. Complete the end-of-year audit and add the new check-signers to the bank account
  4. Select your membership theme for the year, set a membership goal and send out an email through TOTEM to remind folks to join for the 2019-20 school year
  5. Attend trainings offered by your council or district and make plans to attend the Regional Leadership Conferences in August and September
  6. Visit toolkit.capta.org to familiarize yourself with the Toolkit
  7. Review your calendar and budget to make sure they are in line with your plans and goals
  8. Relax and enjoy time with your family so you will be re-charged and ready for an amazing school year!

Leadership Essentials: Tips to Help Strengthen Your PTA

Leadership Essentials

Leadership Essentials is just for PTA leaders, featuring timely information and reminders about issues, tasks and responsibilities at any level. Plus, you’ll find helpful tips and news to help strengthen your PTA and leadership skills.

Take a look at the latest issues of Leadership Essentials:

2021

2020

Lourdes Beleche: Putting the ‘T’ in PTA

lourdes_beleche_teacherLourdes Beleche is all about the kids.

A nominee for this year’s Contra Costa County Office of Education Teacher of the Year, Lourdes has taught several grades — including bilingual classes — at Concord’s Cambridge Elementary School (Mt. Diablo Council, Thirty-Second District PTA) for 19 years.

“I love watching students make connections with things they are learning about,” she said. “I love seeing them learn from each other and have discussions, arguments and defend their opinions.”

And in addition to her nearly two decades of teaching dedication, Lourdes is a dedicated PTA member inspired by her mother.

“Even though my mom didn’t speak English, she joined the PTA and volunteered at our elementary school – Nestor Elementary – setting an example for me,” she said.

“Teachers are the ‘T’ in PTA,” added Lourdes, noting how important it is for teachers to be involved. “I believe that, if we want parents to be active on campus, we also need to step out of the classroom and work side-by-side with them.”

Do you know an inspiring PTA volunteer or member like Lourdes? Let us know: Share your story with socialmedia@capta.org.

 

Per Capita Membership Dues

Some PTAs prefer to offer varied membership enrollment levels for students, school staff and families and donors. In each instance the amount of per-capita forwarded must be according to the council, district State and National PTA amounts. These membership packages require special attention by the membership chairman and the treasurer to assure members receive their memberships cards and the correct amounts are remitted to council and district PTA.

In article IV, Membership, Section 4, insert this language by hand or typewritten:

  • Each faculty member of the association shall pay annual per capita dues of ____dollars and ____ cents ($_____) to the association.
  • Each student member of the association shall pay annual per capita dues of ____dollars and ____ cents ($_____) to the association.
  • Each member of the association shall pay annual dues of _____dollars and ____cents ($_______) per member (also means per capita) to the association, or _____ dollars and _____ cents ($_____) per family of _____ (number) members.

Questions

  • Contact your council PTA president, treasurer and/or parliamentarian if in council.
  • If out of council, contact your district PTA president, treasurer and/or parliamentarian.