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 chair 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.


  • 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.

Signing Contracts and Paying Bills

Signing contracts…Who, what, why, where and when

Annually, many PTAs enter into a variety of contracts, such as contracting with a band to provide live music for a school dance, or to purchase supplies for student spirit stores or for fundraising ventures. “PTA assumes full responsibility to comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and to pay the agreed-upon sum. The fact that the activity or fundraiser may not be a financial success or the PTA has insufficient funds to meet the obligation has no effect on the responsibility assumed.” (National PTA PTA Finance Quick Reference Guide).

Contracts are “legally enforceable agreements between two or more persons or organizations.”  To find guidelines and written resources pertaining to signing contracts, refer to the California State PTA Toolkit, Finance, Policies and Procedures, Contracts; and National PTA’s PTA Finance Quick Reference Guide.

Before entering into a contract on behalf of PTA, consider the following:

  • Has the membership approved the project?
  • Does the president have authorization from the board/executive committee to negotiate a contract?
  • Have all proposed contracts been received in writing?
  • Are the terms and conditions understood by and agreed to by the board/executive committee?
  • Do you need review by legal representation?
  • Is the length of the contract limited to the term of the participating officers, not to encumber future boards?

If the vendor wants the PTA to sign a contract with a “hold harmless clause” the association should contact the California State insurance broker before signing. A hold harmless clause in the vendor’s favor places the responsibility on the PTA for injury or damages.

PTAs are required to obtain a “hold harmless agreement” and “evidence of insurance” from each vendor, concessionaire, or service provider who provides service for PTA projects or events. Instead of providing “evidence of insurance” to each individual unit, businesses may file an annual copy of coverage with the California State PTA insurance broker. A list of approved vendors is updated each month and is included in the insurance section of the California State PTA website.

When entering into a contract, the PTA president is responsible for the agreement and should clearly identify that it is the PTA entering into the contract and not the president or second elected officer as individuals. The signatures on a written contract should read, “____________ PTA (unit, council or district PTA) by: John Doe, president and Mary Smith, vice president.” (California State PTA Toolkit.)

PTA officers cannot enter into any contracts before they legally take office. Remember, if there is any question about the terms or conditions of the contract, the proper time to seek advice is before signing – not after.


Paying bills between association meetings

Bylaws For Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article VIII, Section 2c, states, “The executive board may authorize payment of other unbudgeted association bills not to exceed accumulative total of ($___ amount ) and ($___ amount ) between meetings of the association. Ratification of payment of these bills must occur at the next association meeting and must be recorded in the association minutes.”

What exactly does this mean? When you adopt the annual budget at the beginning of the fiscal year, you are NOT authorizing expenditure of the money. A budget is a financial representation of the estimated costs of planned activities and programs a PTA/PTSA expects to put on during a specific time period. It is a guideline for estimating income and expenditures. An expense is first estimated, then actuated, then the budget is adjusted accordingly, if necessary, as the PTA year proceeds. This budget must be presented to and approved (or adopted) by the general membership by majority vote at the first meeting of the fiscal year. A revised budget is usually presented mid-year and requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote.

As the PTA program continues, expenses are incurred. Each expense must be approved by the membership, either before the expenditure or after. Despite the best planning, expenses will occur between meetings and it is not always convenient to wait until the next association to pay the bill or to repay the person who spent the funds. Article VIII, Section 2c, provides the means to pay unexpected expenses without waiting for prior approval.

The treasurer must track bills paid without prior authorization between meetings to ensure the total amount does not exceed the limit specified in the bylaws. All bills to be paid must be presented with receipts. The amounts paid are then ratified by the membership at the next scheduled association meeting.

Further information may be found in your bylaws, the California State PTA Toolkit, and National PTA’s President and PTA Finance Quick Reference Guides.

Term Limits and Officers


Yes, it’s true. PTA has term limits! You’ll find them clearly stated in your unit, council, or district bylaws.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, including the phrase, “or until their successors have been elected” is necessary to allow for an officer removal and subsequent election of a new officer within the same term. It does not extend the length of the term nor does it allow for a person to continue holding a position into the next term.

PTA or PTSA unit term of office: Officers shall serve for a term of one (1) year or until their successors are elected. (In the event that no successor is elected, the position is declared vacant. Vacant positions must be filled by the executive board-elect or executive board, per Article IV, Section 11 and Section 12.) No officer shall be eligible to the same office for more than two consecutive terms or hold more than one elected or appointed office.

An election must be declared “null and void” whenever discovery is made that the individual elected did not meet the qualifications for office as stated in the bylaws. For example, an individual who has served two consecutive terms in the same position IS NOT ELIGIBLE for election to an additional term in the same position. Otherwise, with few exceptions, a challenge to procedures or outcome must be made at the election meeting. For assistance contact the district PTA, and refer to the California State PTA Toolkit and Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, Contesting the Announced Results of an Election and Point of Order sections.

Remember, bylaws cannot be set aside, so mentor potential officers now!


Co-officer alternatives

The California State PTA and Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised – PTA’s parliamentary authority – do not recognize co-officers. “Co-officer” implies two people of equal rank sharing one position. Only one name may be listed for each office and only one individual may vote for the office held. A second individual cannot be listed for any office and forfeits the right to vote as an officeholder.

PTA bylaws include the positions of president-elect, corresponding secretary and financial secretary to provide assistance to the association’s primary officers: president, secretary and treasurer.

Bylaws may be amended to include additional officers to share the workload. When further circumstances arise that require more than one person to handle the duties of a particular position, an assistant or deputy position may be created, with or without voting privileges at executive board meetings, or the duties may be handled by committee.

Each year PTAs report the names and addresses of all elected officers. If there are co-positions of any kind, the California State PTA can only forward one name to National PTA. That person will receive all mailings, be eligible to vote, attend conventions, conduct meetings, etc. If for some reason the president is unable or fails to act, the vice-president shall take over the duties, temporarily or until the end of the term, as directed (Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article VI, Sections 2 and 3). The bylaws offer the position of executive vice president as an assistant to the president.

Learn more about:

Meeting Notice, Quorums and Voting


Article VII, Section 1, states that “whenever members are required or permitted to take any action at a meeting, a written notice of the meeting shall be given not less than 10 days nor more than 90 days before the date of the meeting to each member who, on the recorded date for the notice of the meeting, is entitled to vote at such meeting.” Such notice is a stipulation of California Corporations Code.

To meet this requirement, presidents may use a variety of ways to publish each meeting agenda listing the general nature of business to be conducted ten (10) days before association meetings. The quorum for a meeting is established in the bylaws with the caution that “if this bylaw provision authorizes a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, then only those matters the general nature of which was contained in the notice of the meeting may be voted upon at such meeting.” This, too, is California Corporations Code.

Since virtually all PTAs state a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, all PTAs are bound by this additional requirement. Items of business which were not in the notice may NOT be acted upon at that particular meeting, but may be discussed and placed on the agenda for action at the next meeting.

Executive board meeting notices and agenda must also be provided to the executive board members ten (10) days prior to executive board meetings.

For the annual meeting, when elections are held, or for meetings at which bylaws amendments are to be adopted, a minimum 30 days’ meeting notice is required. The slate of nominees must be presented in writing to the association’s members 28 days in advance of the annual meeting.

While the agenda does not need to be detailed, it does need to provide information to members about the business to be considered. “Written notice” may include, but is not limited to, publishing the information in the PTA newsletter, providing it at the bottom of current meeting agenda (when the next meeting is 90 days or fewer), posting it at school, posting it on the PTA Web site, or sending it via e-mail.

Adequate care must be taken that the information is accessible to all members; therefore, consideration must be given as to whether members have computers and access to e-mail or the Internet on a daily basis. The methods used must provide reasonable assurance that all voting members have received the notice.



Frequently members of organizations are absent. The business of the organization must be accomplished. The business should not be bound by an “unrepresentively small number of individuals who might attend a meeting.” To prevent this underrepresentation, a quorum – minimum number of members who must attend – is required for a meeting to conduct business.

When no quorum is present the body can do only limited business: hear reports, and set the meeting date and location for the next meeting. A substantive action taken without a quorum is invalid.

A body loses its right to conduct business, if during the meeting, members leave and the remainder no longer satisfies the quorum.

The chair should confirm whether the quorum has been met at the beginning of the meeting.

Unit bylaws describe the quorum required for association meetings and executive board meetings.

Unless otherwise stated in the bylaws or standing rules, the quorum for a committee is a simple majority of the members sitting on a committee or one half plus one (Toolkit, Committee Development and Guidelines). See Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article IX, Section I.

The quorum for an association meeting is established in the bylaws with the caution that “if this bylaw provision authorizes a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, then only those matters the general nature of which was contained in the notice of the meeting may be voted upon at such meeting.” This, too, is California Corporations Code.

Since virtually all PTAs state a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, all PTAs are bound by this additional requirement. Items of business which were not in the notice may NOT be acted upon at that particular meeting, but may be discussed and placed on the agenda for action at the next meeting. Standing Rules **3, and 4 provide further information.

Quorums are not to be confused with the vote required to adopt a motion.



A member must be enrolled for 30 days in order to be eligible to vote. California State PTA membership year is from July 1 to June 30 of each year, with an annual grace period to rejoin until October 31.

Voting may be conducted by voice vote, standing vote, roll call vote, and ballot vote. Refer to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, or Roberts Rules of Order In Brief.

Unless specified otherwise in the bylaws, the outcome of a vote is determined by the majority (more than one half excluding blanks and abstentions) of those present, eligible to vote and voting. Exceptions, which require two-thirds (2/3) are bylaws amendments, motions to amend something previously adopted,  including revised budgets and programs, etc.

No member may be forced to vote. A member who wishes not to vote may remain silent during a voice vote or roll call vote, or may submit a blank ballot during a ballot vote. The vote is not counted.

PTA elections, when there are two or more candidates, require a majority vote by ballot to determine the officer. This means one candidate must receive more than one half of the votes cast. The ballot must be repeated until one candidate receives a majority vote or one candidate withdraws. The outcome of the ballot vote is recorded in the minutes.

The secretary (and/or treasurer) maintains each year’s official membership list. The list is updated for each association meeting. If a current membership list is not available at the association meeting, then all present are eligible to vote.

Bylaws and Standing Rules

Bylaws are designed to help your PTA function in an orderly manner. PTA bylaws describe the purpose of PTA and its mission, and members’ rights, in addition to officers, committees and their respective duties.

The only official set of PTA bylaws for any PTA is an original approved current set of bylaws, signed and dated by the state parliamentarian, PTA president and secretary, and on file with the unit PTA secretary.

A copy of the association’s Bylaws for the Local PTA/PTSA Units must be made available to any association member upon request. A copy should be provided to all officers and board members. Each executive board member is responsible for making a thorough study of them.

The Essential Role of Bylaws

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Local PTAs that need a current copy of their approved bylaws should contact their council or district parliamentarian for assistance. Council and district PTAs maintain file copies of current approved bylaws for member units. California State PTA does not keep copies of local PTA bylaws.

California State PTA does not provide bylaws to units, councils, districts electronically. Unit, council or district bylaws should NOT be scanned or posted on any publicly-accessible website. Bylaws always include officer signatures, which must be protected from inappropriate use. Websites generally do not provide any measure of security and may be accessed by anyone, including those who are not members of the association.


Bylaws should be reviewed annually, and updated every five (5) years by the bylaws committee of the association, chaired by the parliamentarian. The procedures and instructions to complete the bylaws are found inside the front cover of each set of bylaws.

Electronic bylaws are now available (in English), and are highly recommended!

Check out eBylaws

Instructions for bylaw review:

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When the California State PTA approves changes to the standard bylaws for local PTA/PTSA units, the change is effective for all PTAs/PTSAs whether the printed copy being used by your PTA includes that change or not.

Note: Any change in the association’s bylaws, including the number of officers, positions, or membership dues amounts may not be implemented until bylaws have been submitted through channels (council and district PTAs) to the California State PTA parliamentarian for approval.

This means that your PTA must continue to charge the stated dues amount, elect the stated officers, and hold meetings as provided for in your most current set of bylaws signed by the California State PTA parliamentarian. Simply adopting the amendments at an association meeting without prior state approval is not sufficient.

Most bylaws are processed by the state parliamentarian within two weeks of receipt unless additional information is required. Bylaws submitted for review should be returned to you through channels within 6-8 weeks of the original submission date. If you have not received the bylaws back within this time frame, contact your council or district parliamentarian immediately. If you need additional assistance, contact your council or district president or contact the State Parliamentarian at


What are bylaws? How often should my PTA amend the bylaws? Who should receive copies? Check out answers to these questions and more!

Bylaws Q&A



Standing rules outline the procedures of the organization that are not included in the bylaws and must not conflict with the bylaws or the California State PTA Toolkit. They may be changed or amended without notice with a two-thirds (2/3rd) majority vote of the association, or a majority vote with thirty (30) days’ notice.

Some of the differences between standing rules and bylaws are:

  • Bylaws state when the meetings of the association are held.
  • Standing rules tell where and what time association meetings are held, and when executive board meetings are held.
  • Bylaws give the primary responsibilities of officers and chairmen.
  • Standing rules give the specifics.

If the bylaws state that the first vice president is responsible for programs, the standing rules would list the various special committee chairmen who work under that vice president, such as Founders Day, Honorary Service Awards, etc. The bylaws describe the authority of committees. Standing rules indicate which committees are standing committees whose chairmen are voting members of the executive board and which committees are special committees, whose chairmen do not have executive board voting privileges and to which executive board member they report.

If the organization has supplies or equipment, the standing rules would state who is responsible for them and where they would be kept. They might also list details of the installation of officers, and who has responsibility for securing the past president’s pin.

SR 17 Explained