News & Publications

COVID-19 Resources for PTA Leaders

In this section you will find information about how to handle meetings, events, elections and financial transactions while your PTA is unable to meet in person.

If you want to watch a recording of the May 5 Leadership Town Hall webinar, click here. During this session, California State PTA president Celia Jaffe and members of the leadership team offered important information and answered many of your questions about how to handle PTA business and functions during the coronavirus epidemic.

If you want to download and view the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

If you want answers to frequently asked questions that we were not able to get to during the webinar, click here for general FAQs, here for communications FAQs, here for membership FAQs, here for parliamentary issues, and here for financial issues.

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR PTA MEETINGS AND EVENTS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Executive Board/Committee Meetings

Our bylaws allow for Executive Board/Committee meetings to be held via telephone or video conferencing as long as all of the members are able to hear each other. California State PTA (CAPTA) normally requires that units, council and districts obtain approval from the State Parliamentarian for this section of the bylaws prior to using this method of meeting. However, given the sudden rise in coronavirus throughout the state, CAPTA will temporarily waive the approval process for this section of the bylaws and will allow all units, councils and districts to use telephone or video conferencing for their Executive Board/Committee Meetings. This waiver will remain in effect until September 30, 2020.

For those PTAs that do not have approval for telephone or video conferencing Executive Board/Committee meetings, we suggest that at the beginning of the telephone or video conference you present and vote on a motion to ‘Suspend the Rules’ to allow virtual meetings (with a 2/3 vote needed to approve).

Association/General Meetings and Events

While our bylaws do not directly prohibit meetings via teleconference, they do not specifically allow for them either. However, we looked at the non-profit corporate code and it does allow for meeting by teleconference and video conference. Also if there is a health emergency (which COVID-19 is), it supersedes any rule or regulation that would require in-person meetings if they pose a risk to a person’s health. Even Governor Newsom relaxed the open meeting requirements under the Brown Act to help keep citizens of California safe.

California State PTA rules do not allow proxy votes, but teleconferencing and videoconferencing still allows for voting by the members themselves.

TELECONFERENCING GUIDELINES

Getting Started

  • Find a platform/app for hosting the meeting. There are several available. (See the Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing Tools section below for some suggestions.)
  • Set up your account.
  • Practice having a meeting with your executive board before you have one with your general association.

Before the Meeting

  • Give notice of the meeting.
  • Establish the ground rules for the teleconferencing meeting.
  • Prepare the agenda, financial reports, minutes from the last association meeting.
  • Email the reports, agenda and ground rules for the meeting to those who indicate they will be on the call.
  • Make sure your membership list is up to date and your secretary has a copy.

During the Meeting

  • Conduct the meeting as you normally would. Make note of time you open the meeting as well as adjourn the meeting.
  • Set ground rules for the call.
  • Verify everyone on the call can hear and be heard.
  • Remind people to “Mute” themselves to get rid of outside noises.
  • Quorum should be established by roll call and identification of individual members.
  • Have your Secretary do a roll call of the Executive Board that is on the call.
  • Have your Secretary do a roll call of other members that are on the call. Verify they are actually paid PTA members.

Remember: The normal rules of holding a meeting apply to your teleconferencing meeting. People should be treated and treat others with respect and courtesy.

Financial Guidelines: Handling PTA Funds During the Pandemic

Remember that the health and safety of all PTA members and the community takes precedence over PTA policies and procedures. Please follow all state and local directives, including school district policies.

All revenue and receipts must be counted and deposited in the bank as soon as possible after the completion of an activity. For ongoing fundraisers or when money is coming in daily, the money should be deposited daily or as often as possible in the PTA’s bank account. At least two PTA members, one of whom should be an officer or a chairman, must count the monies received. The people counting the money shall not be related by blood, marriage, or cohabitation. Do not publicize the place where money is to be counted.

Have all those involved in counting money verify the total and sign the Cash Verification Form. This form is a safeguard when volunteers are handling PTA funds.

The treasurer or financial secretary shall deposit the money immediately in the bank. If immediate deposit or night drop is not possible, plan for the safekeeping of money until it is deposited in the bank. Avoid taking/keeping funds at home if at all possible. Deposits consisting solely of checks may be deposited using mobile or online banking, if your bank offers that option. You must still obtain a deposit receipt (email, text message, paper copy mailed, etc.) and attach the receipt or a scan/photo to your Cash Verification Form.

If a PTA is not able to use the school’s address for mailing, we recommend that the PTA obtain a PO Box. If using the school address or a PO Box is not possible, please remember that bank statements must be sent to an officer who is not a signer on the bank account. Mail containing cash or checks should be opened in the (socially distanced) presence of another officer and a Cash Verification Form must be completed. Never deposit any money in anyone’s personal account or in the school account. Never leave money unattended.

California State PTA offers an optional online electronic membership program called TOTEM. Dues for members who join through TOTEM are automatically forwarded through channels and the portion of dues you keep is deposited directly in your bank account. Using TOTEM is free for your PTA. For additional information on TOTEM, please visit https://capta.org/pta-leaders/services/electronic-membership-system/.

FAQs FOR MEETINGS VIA TELECONFERENCE

Is it mandatory that we hold an Association Meeting via teleconferencing?

No, we are just giving our Units, Councils, and Districts an alternative to hosting an in-person meeting during these uncharted times. These guidelines expire on September 30, 2020.

I have no idea how to find a way to do teleconferencing? Where do I start to look?

Go to the internet and type in “teleconferencing” or “conference calls,” or refer to the Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing Tools section below.

How much notice of this meeting do I need to give?

General Association meetings need a minimum of 10 days’ notice before hosting the actual meeting. Standard notice is 30 days. No meeting can be held with less than 10 days’ notice.

How do we give notice of the meeting?

  1. Use the PTA’s social media platforms as well as the website to announce details of the meeting
  2. See if your principal can place notice of the meeting on the school website and social media platforms
  3. Email your membership list directly announcing the meeting and agenda
  4. Board members should also share information about the meeting on their personal pages. This may notify people who are not following the PTA.

Is it OK to post the documents for the meeting on our website and social media?

Yes, as long as you make sure they are non-editable documents. Also make sure that there is nothing controversial or confidential in the documents. Example: you can list that there are bounced checks from your last fundraiser but do not list the names of the people who bounced the checks.

Is it OK to present our financials at this teleconferencing meeting?

Yes, you can present a full treasurer’s report including ratification of payments made and releasing funds. Have the auditor present the mid-year audit. You can also present the budget for the next school year and release funds to pay summer bills.

What should we do if we do not have a current membership list?

If there is no current membership list, then you would have to grant voting rights to all those on the call, once you verify they are actually members of your school population.

How do we handle translation of this teleconferencing meeting?

See if the application or tool you are using has a translation option. Test it out before the meeting. If it does not offer that option, talk to someone who can do translation from the school community. The translator(s) would need to be on the actual call, translating in real time. Prior to the event make sure that person knows the order of what is happening during the meeting and work out how the translation process will work during the call. It is very important to make all our parents feel included.

FAQS FOR ELECTIONS VIA TELECONFERENCE

Does the slate of officers need to be posted?

Yes, your proposed slate of officers should be posted 30 days in advance.

We never elected a nominating committee and do not have a slate of officers, what should we do?

It is still important to hold an election. You will need to take all nominations from the floor for the positions listed in your bylaws. Please see the California State PTA Toolkit for further details.

How do people run from the floor?

You can handle this one of many ways. A few suggestions:

  • Have those who want to run from the floor announce their intention at the very beginning of the teleconference. That way it will make things easier when the time comes to hold the election.
  • Have those who are interested in running from the floor make their intent known within a certain time frame after the meeting notice goes out. The chair could then announce the names of those who are running from the floor to let people know in advance, who is running for the various positions.

How do we handle a ballot vote when people wish to remain anonymous regarding who they are voting for?

There are several alternatives to handling a ballot vote. Some of the conferencing services will allow you to vote and only the organizer see who has voted. You can utilize Survey Monkey, the free version, if you set the account up ahead of time and have the names of the candidates.

If there is no election because school is closed, does the current board roll over to the next school year?

Boards staying in place past the end of the term is not the ideal situation. For many reasons, PTA leaders may need to move on from their current position. Whenever possible, boards should try to hold an election meeting prior to the end of the term, in most cases, September 30th, 2020.

Click here to view instructions for making a Google form, which could be helpful when holding a ballot vote.

FAQs FOR FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS, AUDITS AND TAXES

Is it OK to present our financials at a teleconferencing meeting?

Yes, you can present a full treasurer’s report including ratification of payments made and releasing funds. Have the auditor present the mid-year audit. You can also present the budget for the next school year and release funds to pay summer bills.

How do we approve bills that need to be paid?

During the meeting being conducted via teleconferencing, the treasurer will make a motion to approve the bills that need to be paid. You can make a motion to pay summer bills. The treasurer should also make motions to ratify the payments that have already been made.

Are checks the only way we can pay our bills?

If the person or company you need to pay can accept an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or a payment from your bank’s bill payment system, you can process the payment via that method. There is a form to be filled out and attached to the invoice, which can be found here. Full information regarding the EFT process is available here: http://toolkit.capta.org/finance/banking/expenditures/payment‐via‐electronic‐fundstransferbank‐bill‐pay‐services/. Remember, you should never pay a bill without an invoice or a receipt, and electronic signatures are acceptable on this and other payment authorization forms when necessary..

Mid-year audits are due to Councils and Districts. Most have not been approved by the Association. What should we do?

If the audit has been completed, and signed by the audit committee, follow the guidelines from your Council or District. Some like to have copies, some like the units to upload into MyPTEZ. If there are no guidelines, upload the information into MyPTEZ as soon as possible.

Are tax deadlines for non-profits going to be extended by the IRS (Internal RevenueService) or the FTB (Franchise Tax Board)?

As of the middle of March, tax deadlines have not been extended. If we get any new information we will update our local leaders through our standard social media platforms as well as our
district and council leadership.

What if my unit is interested in redirecting existing funding to support teachers’ online learning? Can our Executive Board vote for emergency funding and reallocate existing funds to supply tools such as headsets?

Every executive board has some power to spend funds that were not budgeted – this is in the bylaws (now in the standing rules in 2018 and 2019 bylaws versions). The relevant section (June 2019 version) says:

Authorization for Expenditures – The executive board shall perform the duties and responsibilities prescribed in the California State PTA Toolkit. It is authorized to pay bills for budgeted expenditures and other unbudgeted Association bills not to exceed a cumulative total of ___________________________ dollars ($________) between meetings of the Association. Ratification for payment of these bills must occur at the next Association meeting and must be recorded in the Association minutes.

The dollar amount depends on the number of association meetings the PTA holds yearly; the fewer the meetings the more money the board can spend in between them.

So every PTA can spend up to this limit in their bylaws on any un-budgeted expenses the board deems necessary. To spend more than the limit, even if those funds were released for a different line item in the budget, requires association approval in advance. Please refer to the guidelines above for holding an association meeting via videoconferencing or teleconferencing.

We would also encourage each PTA to look at their budget and determine if there are categories already there and approved that are broad enough to reasonably include the items the PTAs are looking to purchase. If not, and if the board wants to spend more than the limit, the PTA president can call an emergency meeting with 10 days notice and hold it via the methods listed above.

What do we do with donated items now that we can no longer have the event they were donated for (like our silent auction)? Do we need to vote to cancel the event even though we can’t hold it due to school closures and COVID-19 restrictions?

If the donations were solicited specifically for this event that you are now not able to have and not as “general” donation to the PTA, the PTA needs to contact the donors (all of them) and ask them what they would like you to do with the donated items. This is easiest via email, because then you will have written instructions from the donor, which is really what you need. If the donor wants the items returned, you have to give them back. If they give you permission to keep them/use them as needed, then you can vote as an association how to “repurpose” those donations at a future time.

You do not need a vote of the association to cancel a fundraiser/event that you are no longer able or allowed by law to hold. You would only need a vote on how to distribute/use any donations that were not returned to donors. FYI: only donations that you keep have to be reported on tax filings. Returned donations do not need to be reported.

Can our PTA donate to other community non-profits who are taking lead roles in supporting the many under-served families in our district? Can we offer some sort of direct support to members (individuals and families) of need in our school communities?

The IRS is very clear that a 501(c)3 public charity (which all PTAs are) may donate funds to another 501(c)3 public charity with a similar mission. That means that a PTA can donate money only to nonprofits who have similar purposes. For example, you could not donate to the Red Cross, but you could donate to a non-profit children’s library, provided it had 501(c)3 status.

Likewise, the IRS is very clear that a public charity may not gift funds to individuals or families unless that is what the charity was organized to do. PTAs are not organized for that purpose, so we may not give money (including gift cards) to individuals or families in our school communities, regardless of need.

So the PTA may donate to other community organizations if they meet the criteria above (and assuming the association voted to do so), but the PTA could not gift funds to an individual or family.

However, there are several other things that PTAs can do to help and we encourage units to consider the following:

  • The PTA may advertise any and all benefits/fundraisers being held for individuals or families in need or local charities who are assisting those in need, regardless of who is organizing them. That includes letting everyone in your community know GoFundMe campaigns, etc.
  • The PTA may also help with a fundraiser by advertising it and encouraging volunteers, but it cannot be an official PTA activity and all money collected must go to the organization holding the fundraiser Checks cannot be made out to PTA and no deposits may be made to the PTA account on behalf of another organization or family in need.
  • The PTA may sponsor a food/diaper/necessities drive or solicit donations of those items to be given to a local food bank, etc. “Necessities” could include personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and medical facilities if that’s a need in your area.

Can our PTA buy restaurant gift cards for our school staff members since we cannot hold our annual staff appreciation luncheon?

No. Giving a gift card is the same as giving someone cash. In addition, giving a volunteer cash or a cash equivalent like a gift card on behalf of the organization may cause them to be considered an employee or an independent contractor by government agencies. And the IRS considers cash gifts (including gift cards) as reportable income on the recipient’s tax filings. For these reasons, our policies and procedures expressly forbid giving gift cards purchased with PTA funds: “PTA funds cannot be used to purchase personal gifts for staff or volunteers, such as gift cards.” (See Recommended Budget Line Items in the California State PTA Toolkit.)

What can PTAs do for staff appreciation while schools are closed?

  • If local businesses or members of the community wish to donate gift cards/certificates to school staff, you may facilitate that donation.
  • You may pay for a staff appreciation meal for all staff members by paying a restaurant directly.  Many restaurants are now offering “fixed price” menus for pickup and/or delivery.  You may pay a restaurant to provide such a meal to each staff member at your school and then let the staff know how to contact the restaurant to pick up/receive delivery of their meal.  (Remember, your PTA’s total expenses for hospitality, including staff appreciation, may not exceed 5% of your yearly budgeted expenses.)
  • You can issue a “rain check” for your usual staff appreciation activities and plan to hold them as soon as in person school resumes or whenever large gatherings of people are permitted again.

You can send thank you cards (by mail, email, or social media) thanking staff for all their amazing work during this trying time.  Notes from parents and/or students will be particularly meaningful.  You should work with the school principal to determine the best way to distribute these notes to the staff.

TELECONFERENCING AND VIDEO CONFERENCING TOOLS

If local leaders choose to hold meetings vie teleconference or video conference based on our recent guidance, there are various free tools to consider that allow you to hold online conference calls or video meetings with multiple attendees (subject to limitations).

Some options include:

  1. GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar
  2. Zoom *
  3. Slack
  4. GROUPME
  5. Facebook Messenger
  6. Google Hangouts

To compare conference call systems, please go to https://www.quicksprout.com/best-conference-call-services/.

* Please note that Zoom’s free plan normally limits conference calls to 40 minutes, but this rule has been temporarily lifted for K-12 schools affected by Coronavirus. Click here to learn how to access this offer, and how to verify your school using its official email address.

Mention of these companies does not imply endorsement by California State PTA.

Click here to view instructions for making a Google form, which could be helpful when holding a ballot vote.

If you want to download the PowerPoint presentation from our recent webinar “Tools and Best Practices to Hold Effective Virtual Meetings,” click here.

If you’d like to watch a recording of the webinar, click here.