For new officers, bylaws are your best friend!

PTA bylaws are the foundation of the organization. What officers you will elect, when you will have your meetings, how many voting members must be in meetings – even meeting notice requirements and budget adoption requirements – are in the bylaws. Bylaws should be reviewed annually, and must be updated at least every five years, so the beginning of the year is a perfect time to start! As you review the bylaws, you may notice components that need to be updated. Don’t worry – that’s part of the process! 

A bylaws review committee, appointed by the president and chaired by the parliamentarian, is how the process begins. That committee examines the existing bylaws and the current bylaws template, and may recommend changes to the bylaws. When the executive board  approves the changes, a prepared submission will be forwarded to the Council or District that supports you and then they will pass it to us here at California State PTA. We call this the “PTA Channels”.  The California State PTA parliamentarian reviews the changes and signs the bylaws to be returned to the unit through channels. 

But you are not done yet!  The process  is complete only when the bylaws changes have been adopted by a 2/3 vote at a unit association meeting with 30 days’ notice. Plan wisely, because the process does take some time!

Need help with the steps? Council, District, and California State PTA leaders are here to help guide and support you every step of the way. Reach out to if you need help getting in touch with the right leaders for help. 

Find out more about reviewing bylaws in the Toolkit:  In addition, you’ll find a wealth of information about bylaws on the California State PTA Leaders’ Website.

Stay tuned for more info on Parliamentary Procedures and Bylaws Tips in future issues of PTA Connects!

How to Incorporate Your Historian’s Work Into Your PTA All Year

By California State PTA Leadership Services Commission

In the bylaws of many PTA/PTSA Units, Councils, and Districts the historian is identified as an elected officer (a member of the executive board). Even though this person has a seat at the table year round, many PTA members don’t know what the Historian does other than collecting volunteer hours. A PTA historian captures, assembles, and preserves the PTA record of activities and achievements, collects and reports volunteer hours, and displays or presents a brief overview of the PTA year at a meeting near the end of the school year.

Below is the information you need to complete your local report now; plus suggestions of how your Historian can partner with other PTA/PTSA leaders and support the work of your organization.

The Annual Historian Report

These reports are submitted by units and councils to district PTAs in May. District PTAs submit the compiled reports to California State PTA by June 1 each year. Volunteer hours are collected and reported to maintain PTA’s federal tax exemption status. As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, each PTA must receive 1/3 (one-third) of its support from the general public. The recorded hours from volunteers spent for meetings, preparation, travel, PTA events, workshops, convention, etc are proof of this.

You’ll find the Job Description for Historian, additional information, and the fillable Annual Historian Report form in the California State PTA Toolkit.

Suggestions for Year-Round Historian Activities

Your PTA/PTSA Historian can help strengthen engagement and advocacy, promote your organization and celebrate PTA accomplishments. It’s a great idea to showcase your PTA history and the contributions of your volunteer organization year round. Here are some suggestions:

  • Volunteer appreciation event – create a display to generate pride in the volunteers and for the work of the PTA. 
  • To demonstrate impact and strengthen your PTA voice, share your volunteer hours in your advocacy and in grant writing.
  • Set up a display in the school hall or school office with photos of your PTA’s work.
  • Share the history of your PTA at Back to School Night, staff luncheons, and other community events. 
  • Collaborate with the Founders Day Chair to promote PTA History and include the history on your website or social media posts. 
  • Interview past PTA presidents and principals to compare today’s school life with yesterday’s. 
  • Present a ‘mock’ check to your school board to show the dollar value of volunteer hours at the end of the school year.
Here are some helpful forms from your California State PTA Toolkit: 

Annual Historian Report – PTA Unit

Annual Historian Report – PTA Unit (Fillable)

Annual Historian Report – PTA Council

Annual Historian Report – PTA Council (Fiilable)

Annual Historian Report – PTA District

Annual Historian Report – PTA District (Fillable)






Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units: Essential and Easy to Update

By Leadership Services Commission

What do you think of when you hear the term “bylaws?” Does “restrictive,” “rules,” and “Who needs them?” come to mind? The more familiar you are with unit, council, or district bylaws the more you’ll appreciate their contribution to running an organization smoothly. They are also a resource for key information and must be updated as outlined below:

  • The cover page includes the date your PTA was organized; National PTA and California State PTA identification numbers as assigned, and your District PTA and Council PTA names, if in council. 
  • The internal signature page indicates when the bylaws were last adopted. Bylaws must be updated every five years, or as changes are needed. The date included with the State Parliamentarian’s signature starts the five-year clock.

Bylaws should be reviewed annually by the executive board, early in the term. The handout, Bylaws are Essential, provides an overview of Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units. Council and district PTA bylaws are similar. The Job Description for Parliamentarians includes the process to update bylaws. 

California State PTA has a free, nearly paperless, electronic tool to update your bylaws easily, eBylaws. This tool now includes the latest 2022 English bylaws version for units. Visit the PTA Leaders, Services, eBylaws webpage to request a password to use the free system. While you wait for the password, use the helpful information (in English and Spanish) on the same webpage 4 Key Steps to Review Bylaws, and the eBylaws worksheet. When you receive your password to eBylaws, return to the webpage and click on Access eBylaws. After you have correctly entered your PTA information, the system will generate a set of bylaws to submit through channels to the State Parliamentarian for approval. Follow the How to Submit Your Bylaws cover sheet included with the bylaws pdf.  

Bilingual Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units are available for units in pdf fillable form or paper copy from your council or district PTA. Use eBylaws to update the English text, then copy the English and enter the Spanish text to the bilingual bylaws. Work with your council/district PTA to determine how to submit bilingual bylaws. 

Questions? Contact the PTA council or district parliamentarian for assistance to update bylaws, your essential leadership tool.

Nominating Committee: The most important committee of your PTA

By Brad Waller, CA State PTA Parliamentarian

January marks the time to think about the election of your PTA’s nominating committees! 

Your local bylaws determine when your nominating committee should be elected, typically in January or February. The nominating committee election occurs at an association meeting at least two months before the annual election meeting. This timing is important because it:

  • gives the committee one month to identify a slate of PTA officers, 
  • provides time for the 30-day member notice of the annual meeting, and 
  • provides time for the 28-day notice of the slate of nominees. 

The bylaws also indicate how many members are elected to serve on the committee and how many alternates are required.

Why is the nominating committee the most important committee of the PTA? 

They will identify your PTA’s future leaders. Consider the qualifications of the committee members carefully. They must understand and appreciate the school culture and its ethnicities, have knowledge of past PTA accomplishments, and understand who would best advance the work of PTA in your community. Those elected for service must observe strict confidentiality and must be individuals trusted by the community. They must have time to serve, be ready to work as a team, discuss delicate matters, and have an understanding of the roles of the officer positions. In the California State PTA Toolkit Nominations and Elections section, you’ll find additional guidance for the important task of electing the nominating committee:

Two requirements, in particular, ensure an unbiased nomination process. Individuals are ineligible to serve twice (back-to-back) and the president never serves on the committee. The principal, if not elected to serve on the committee, is always a consultant and would be a voting member if serving on the committee. Committee members serve until the annual election meeting.

How does the Nominating Committee do its work?

At its first meeting, the members elect the chair with the parliamentarian’s assistance. If an elected member is unable to attend the first meeting, then an alternate member steps in for the duration of the committee’s work. During discussion, committee members select the most qualified nominees for each position. Ask your PTA’s current officers to provide a short paragraph or outline of their duties or to share their procedure books. 

The committee members can interview candidates as a group or assign teams to conduct interviews. Refer to National PTA’s resources for sample questions and a candidate checklist. When there is ample time, committees may develop and distribute an application to inspire individuals’ interest in serving. Committees may also survey the PTA’s members to determine whom they believe are qualified leaders.

The nominee for president is identified first, then the positions of secretary, treasurer. The other officers follow once the three required positions have been slated. The committee is not obligated to nominate individuals for their preferred positions, nor advance an executive vice president or first vice president to the position of president. The best leaders are adaptable and essential skills apply to all roles. The committee looks for individuals committed to the PTA principles, keeping the names of candidates confidential from other potential candidates. Committee members do not bargain with candidates or waive job duties as described. Nominees for appointed officers and chairs are not included in the work of the committee. After the election, the president-elect makes appointments for these positions, which are ratified by the board-elect.

Once a slate has been agreed upon by the committee, the committee chair notifies the president of the slate, who releases the information no later than 28 days prior to the annual meeting. The committee continues its work if any positions do not have a nominee or should one withdraw. At the election meeting the chair presents the slate to the membership.

Plan now to elect your PTA’s most qualified members to this important committee. The future of your PTA depends on the essential work of the nominating committee today.