Make PTA Planning Part of Your Summer. You’ll Be Glad You Did.

By Leadership Services Commission 

Summer is certainly a time to relax and take a breath. For PTA leaders it’s also the ideal time to get a head start on the next PTA term. When things begin to get busier with the start of school, you and your team will be ready to hit the ground running. That’s particularly valuable if you are a new PTA president or if you have new people on your board.

Take Advantage of Others’ Experience and Advice  

Start by becoming familiar with your local PTA’s recent history. 

  • Review print and electronic materials from the previous year including calendar, minutes, officer and chair reports, and audits. 
  • Listen to outgoing officers and chairs as they share insights to their successes and challenges.
  • Make sure you know what PTA district you’re in and if your unit is part of a PTA council – know the council.  This is important because districts and councils can have their own deadlines, meetings and training to support your PTA.

Take advantage of the information you get from California State PTA and National PTA and make sure you open the emails and other communications you get. You can start by downloading the California State PTA Running Your PTA guide. (If you’re the PTA president, you’ll get a mailing as well.) Review and share the content with the other members of your PTA board. 

Watch for emails and communications from your PTA district and council, if your unit is in a council. Distribute the information and delegate responsibility to your executive board team members. You’ll want to consult with your PTA council, if in council, and PTA district to identify their meeting dates, and the due dates for submitting membership, tax filing, and historian annual reports. Identify who will represent your PTA at these required meetings.

Build A Strong Board Team

A PTA president can’t do this job alone. That’s why every PTA has a board and why California State PTA has a Toolkit to help board members do their work. The more your governance team understands the work required of the entire team, the more effective the team will be. Here are some important steps to take.

  • The president should review and distribute to board members the bylaws, relevant Toolkit sections and Job Descriptions for Officers and Chairs
  • Plan an executive board retreat so everyone can get acquainted, clarify their responsibilities, and start working together.
  • Review and make sure the entire executive board, but particularly the president, treasurer and secretary, understand the fiduciary responsibility to the association, including: budgets, timely release of funds, payment authorizations/reimbursements, contracts, payment ratification, audits and tax agency filings.
  • Fill officer vacancies and appoint committee chairs and committee members. 

Plan Your Calendar for the Coming Year

Develop the year’s calendar of PTA meetings, programs, and fundraising events. It’s important to:

  • Consult with the school principal and office manager to reduce schedule conflicts, observe school district policies, find out about current protocols for volunteers on campus, complete Civic Center Use Permits, etc. 
  • Remember to include monthly executive board meetings, per the bylaws. If there is no business, just cancel the meeting. 
  • Calendar the Annual Association Meeting, per bylaws, and note the meeting for the nominating committee election and date of slate notification to members.

Get Your Financial House in Order

Several actions need to be taken at the start of the term to make sure your PTA’s finances are in order.

  • If a preliminary budget was adopted before June 30, the budget committee including the treasurer, fundraising, and program chairs should review it to determine if changes need to be made. 
  • The executive board approves any budget amendments at its first meeting, and recommends approval at the first association meeting of the year.
  • Consult with the PTA insurance provider to verify planned events are covered by insurance.  
  • Confirm the outgoing auditor is ready to begin the audit, and the treasurer has prepared the financial reports for the audit. If there is no outgoing auditor, then work with the outgoing president and board members to identify an auditor. Contact your PTA council or district for assistance.
  • Per the bank requirements, update the signatures on the PTA’s bank accounts according to the bylaws. Obtain user names and passwords for online bank accounts, and any PTA websites, social media accounts, subscriptions, electronic cloud storage, etc. 

Start Reaching Out to Your School Community

Don’t wait for the start of school to begin building your membership. You can launch your membership campaign in July. Consider sending out a school community survey to identify program interests and volunteers at the same time. Remember, you can also use the survey to educate families and teachers about recent work accomplished by the PTA and potential for what can be accomplished. 

Be sure to publish the results of the survey to show you value member input and inform people about how you’re responding.

Develop your PTA’s communication tools and calendar to effectively inform and engage members. The summer is the perfect time to update your PTA’s information on the school website and your PTA’s website or Facebook page.

A Little Advance Work Pays Big Dividends

Spending a little time now will build a solid foundation for your PTA year and ensure your board is functioning well. Remember your state PTA leaders are always available to assist you. Contacting your local District PTA president is a good place to start. You’ll find a District PTA directory here.