FAQs

How can our PTA help in relief assistance efforts in times of disaster (fires, natural disasters, etc.)?
How many PTA members and local units are there in Connecticut?
How much are membership dues?
How do I get my membership cards and Annual Resources guide?
PTA verses unaffiliated parent groups, what's the difference?
What is a "Unit in good standing"?
What do the Board of Directors actually do?
How can I start up a PTA/PTSA/SEPTA Unit?
Why should I attend a PTA Annual Meeting?
What is parent involvement?
What are the ways I as a parent can become involved in my child's education?
How do I develop bylaws for my local unit?
Can a parent donate money to the PTA to buy needed supplies (equipment such as computers, books, etc.) for the     school?
How can we get a web page for our local unit?
Should our local unit build a playground for our school?
Where and when was the CT PTA founded?
Why does our PTA unit need insurance?
Are there any guidelines as to how much funds (or percentage of budget) can be carried over from year to year?
Are there any problems with providing information about, and/or linking to, a for-profit company from our PTA website?
Is it OK for individual PTA units to share with each other the details of their budgets?
If an elementary school PTA runs an after-school enrichment program that will include special needs children, and if no paraprofessionals or school nurses are present, is the PTA liable for the needs of these children, and if so, to the full extent of their IEPs?
Can our parent group sponsor a "Las Vegas Night" fundraiser?
Our town is holding a referendum for a school building project.  Can our PTA endorse (or oppose) the school building project? Can we use funds to buy "Vote Yes for School Building Project"? Can a PTA member/officer state in the paper or at a public meeting that the PTA supports the school building project?
Can our PTA vote to endorse (or oppose) a school system budget? Can we use funds to buy "Vote Yes for the School System Budget"?
Can a PTA Unit/Council endorse a political candidate?  Can a PTA member endorse a candidate?
With the new state and federal laws regarding nutrition in place, can I still make cupcakes for my child's in-school birthday party? 


How can our PTA help in relief assistance efforts in times of disaster (fires, natural disasters, etc.)?  

PTAs are often asked to provide assistance with the coordination of relief activities.  Here are some important guidelines that must be followed when doing so:

PTAs are prohibited from making personal gifts to a specified family or individual. A PTA may not collect and disburse funds for the benefit of specified families or individuals. A PTA's EIN may not be used for the establishment or maintenance of any financial account designated for the benefit of specified families or individuals. The IRS may impose penalties if these rules are not observed.

PTA units, councils and districts may participate in community relief efforts by making a monetary donation to a relief organization recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and United Way handle donations for relief efforts under benevolent fund procedures, which mean that funds are received for disbursement to a broad class of potential recipients. These organizations may not accept funds for a specific family or individual.

In order for PTA funds to be donated, PTA financial procedures must be followed. The membership is the authorized body to approve, or ratify, the donation to another 501(c)(3) organization. The approval of the donation must appear in the minutes of a meeting of the association.

PTAs may participate in disaster relief efforts by:

Encouraging members to make personal donations to a relief organization of individual choice
Encouraging members to volunteer to assist at a location providing services to disaster victims
Providing information on local blood drive locations
Providing information about other relief efforts in your community

PTAs may participate in personal tragedy relief efforts by:
Working to locate another agency or organization that may handle donated funds to benefit the affected family or individual
Offering to meet with other community leaders to arrange with a local bank for the establishment of a special account to handle donated funds (Cannot use PTA EIN)

 
How many PTA members and local units are there in Connecticut? 

There are over 40,000 PTA members in the state, in over 240 local units.  
How much are membership dues? 

Membership Fees are $5.50 per member. Of this amount, $2.25 is sent to the National PTA, and $3.25 is allocated to the CT State PTSA. Note that local units can charge any amount they wish for membership, with the remainder of the dues staying with the local unit.
 
How do I get my membership cards my Official Back to School Kit?  Kits are available one per unit from National PTA. To order your kit go to: http://redirect.pta.org/ptakit_register.

Annual Resource Guide
The Annual Resources Guide for PTAs from National PTA provides information to assist you in leading an efficient and effective PTA. It includes tips on running meetings, finances, advocacy and the Reflections program, just to name a few.

A PTA Membership Quick Reference guide is provided by National PTA and given to each unit president.  All Membership chairs should receive this booklet from thier unit presidents.   

Membership cards
Membership cards are mailed out from the state office after your Officer Information sheet is received.  The amount of cards mailed is 10% more than last year membership totals per unit.  Membership cards get mailed to Membership chairs or unit presidents.


PTA verses unaffiliated parent groups, What's the difference? 

A PTA goes beyond the local school as many problems affecting children and youth cannot be solved by local action alone. Other parent teacher organizations (PTO's) are solely school-based and do not provide access to a larger network. Click here to learn more!

 
What is a "Unit in good standing"?

A unit is good standing is an active PTA unit that has paid its membership fees and whose bylaws are in compliance with the state and national PTA bylaws.  The many benefits offered by the State & National PTA are only available to units in good standing.

 
What do the Board of Directors actually do? 

The Board of Directors serves the local units and members and helps conduct the business of PTA between annual meetings. Individual board members can be assigned to represent the Connecticut PTSA to outside agencies and organizations. The Board is responsible for guiding the policy and decision-making of the Connecticut PTSA. Functions of the board are listed in Policy No. 302c.


How can I start up a PTA/PTSA/SEPTA Unit? 

The State PTSA office will assist you in organizing a local PTA, PTSA, SEPTA, or other local unit. Some basic information is available on this web site.

   
What is parent involvement? 

Parent involvement is the participation of parents in every facet of children's education and development from birth to adulthood, recognizing that parents are the primary influence in children's lives.


What are the ways I as a parent can become involved in my child's education? 

There are several key areas where parents can become involved: Regular communication between home and school, good parenting skills are used, parents must play an integral role in assisting student learning and they must be full partners in decisions that affect children and families. Click here to learn more!


How do I develop bylaws for my local unit? 

Everything (or almost everything) you need to know about bylaws can be found on our site in the members only area. Click here to learn more! (members only section)

Can a parent donate money to the PTA to buy needed supplies (equipment such as computers, books, etc.) for the school? 

The purchasing of school supplies is considered the responsibility of the school system. Any individual can contribute to the school system (according to the local board of education's policies), but school money and PTA money should never mix in an account. Doing so would turn PTA treasuries into "slush funds" for the school system. These are illegal activities.

People most certainly can make PTA donations, since PTAs are a nonprofit organization. However, gift givers cannot tell the PTA what to do with the money. If a donor wants to be certain that his or her money is going to be used for a specific purpose, that donor can make his or her wish known and then leave it up to the PTA to decide whether or not to accept the donation. It is up to the board and the PTA members to decide if the gift furthers the goals of the organization. The board must act in the best interest of the organization and must let the PTA Mission and Objects guide their decision-making, as well as IRS rules and regulations.

Remember, PTAs are viewed as educational nonprofit organizations by the IRS and, when audited, are expected to look and act like educational nonprofit organizations. The giving of large gifts of supplies and equipment to schools is not a recognized role of PTA. The IRS will likely ask what this has to do with the Mission and Objects of the organization. The IRS will look for parent programming, training, forums, parent-child activities, school/parent partnerships and activities, and such. Fundraising is considered a minor part of PTA work and, for every one fundraiser you do, your PTA should be able to show at least three non-fundraising events or programs.

Therefore, the easiest, least complicated way for a parent to donate money for this purpose is by directly donating to the school system.

 
How can we get a web page for our local unit? 

You have several options for getting your local unit a world wide web presence.  Some services allow you to create web sites without any programming knowledge or additional software, others assume you are a "web guru".  Check the "How to Build a PTA Web Site" page on our site for more information... Click here to learn more!

 
Should our local unit build a playground for our school? 

The National PTA does not recommend PTA units purchase any type of equipment for schools for three primary reasons - insurance liability, maintenance considerations, and concerns over funding for public education.

For example, if a PTA purchases playground equipment they may then be held liable for any accident or damage occurring while on or around the equipment. Once purchased, the PTA may be held responsible for the upkeep and general maintenance of the equipment which can represent considerable additional cost. In public schools, purchasing appropriate and necessary equipment for schools is considered a public responsibility and therefore should be paid for by tax dollars. Your PTA's efforts are better spent focusing on your community's education budgeting process - keeping informed of the procedure and supplying public comment to officials about budget priorities.

If your unit does decide to purchase any type of equipment for a school, we recommend that it becomes school property (via a donation by the PTA, for example) therefore the school would be responsible for any insurance or maintenance issues.

Contact the CT PTSA office if you need more information concerning your particular situation.

 
Where and when was the CT PTSA founded? 

Frances Sheldon Bolton founded the Connecticut Congress of Mothers in 1900, three years after the National Congress was organized Washington, D.C. in 1897. Utilizing the same Goals and Objects of the National Congress, Connecticut's mothers directed their efforts toward bringing the system of education closer to excellence and making the home environment a positive and healthy experience for the children and youth. Click here for a complete history of the CT PTA!


Why does our PTA unit need insurance? 

PTA is a private, nonprofit association -- a business -- a legal entity. It is accountable for its actions, and when it conducts its activities, it must conduct the safest, best managed activities possible -- appropriately supervised and within the scope of the expertise of the PTA, and it must provide adequate protection for the public against the actions of the PTA in the event an accident happens at the activity. This responsibility exposes the PTA and its leadership to an element of risk in the event an accident or incident takes place at a PTA activity. When an accident or incident takes place, there is the possibility that the PTA (and, perhaps its officers and directors) could be named in a lawsuit. General liability insurance shifts the potential risks to the insurance company, thus protecting the PTA.
Click here to learn more about PTA insurance, including premiums and options


Are there any guidelines as to how much funds (or percentage of budget) can be carried over from year to year? 

While there is no hard and fast rule as to how much or what percentage to carryover from year to year, we recommend no more than 40-50% of the operating budget be carried over.  In addition, you should place money in an  'Emergency Reserve Fund' to be used for just that - emergencies.  Other considerations are estimated membership numbers, the amount and timing of fund raisers, and how your money was spent during the previous years.
Click here to learn more about Developing a Budget (members only section)

 
Are there any problems with providing information about, and/or linking to, a for-profit company from our PTA website? 

Generally there should not be a problem linking to their website...  Keep in mind the following:
Do not give any qualifying information regarding the company (i.e., "they are the best")
You can not tell anyone they must purchase from the company
You can not promote the company in any way other than to say "for your convenience, we've linked to their website"


Is it OK for individual PTA units to share with each other the details of their budgets? Are PTA budgets meant to be private? 

PTA units can share details of each other's budgets. A local unit's budget is set by the group responsible as designated by the bylaws, and then is presented at an open meeting of the general membership, and voted on by that membership.  The results of that vote and the budget are included in the minutes of that meeting.  At each successive meeting, there should be a treasurer's report presented to the membership, which is also noted in the minutes.  All of this information is public, not private.

 
If an elementary school PTA runs an after-school enrichment program that will include special needs children, and if no paraprofessionals or school nurses are present, is the PTA liable for the needs of these children, and if so, to the full extent of their IEPs?

Generally, PTAs should acquire liability insurance when they are involved with projects or activities that may result in potential hazard for PTA members, school children or other third parties. This coverage may be purchased on either a continuous, year-round, comprehensive coverage basis or on a one-time basis for special events. An insurance agent can provide more detailed information on the coverage under each type of policy. Usually, school district liability insurance does not extend to PTAs or their activities.

In specific regards to after-school programs and enrollment (or potential exclusion) of special needs children, the situation becomes very complex. Blanket exclusion of children requiring additional services to participate could be considered a form of discrimination which opens the PTA to potential legal action. However, if a child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) calls for his or her enrollment in an after-school enrichment program, then the district would be required to provide the appropriate services.

We would suggest the PTA leadership discuss the matter with the parents of the children these circumstances effect, explaining that they are not qualified to respond to special medical needs that may be required for their child. They can request that the parents determine (in consultation with their IEP team) whether the after-school program is part of their child's IEP. If it is, they should clarify that the child's special needs must be met by the district, not by untrained (PTA or other) volunteers. If the program is not considered part of the IEP and the parents still want to enroll their children, it would be best for the unit to consult with a local attorney to determine if a waiver will cover their potential liability. Click here for more information regarding Special Education

 
Can our parent group sponsor a "Las Vegas Night" fundraiser? 

In Connecticut, a bill was signed into law repealing "Las Vegas Night Games". Included in this bill is a provision that repeals the law allowing public schools, parents, teachers and administrators to sponsor events at which games of chance (Las Vegas Nights) may be played. This means that schools, parents, teachers and administrators may no longer sponsor events at which games of chance are played.

 
Our town is holding a referendum for a school building project.  Can our PTA endorse (or oppose) the school building project? Can we use funds to buy "Vote Yes for School Building Project"? Can a PTA member/officer state in the paper or at a public meeting that the PTA supports the school building project? 

The answer is "YES" to all of these.  As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, you can speak out and endorse initiatives such as this. 

 
Can our PTA vote to endorse (or oppose) a school system budget? Can we use funds to buy "Vote Yes for the School System Budget"?

Can a PTA member/officer state in the paper or at a public meeting that the PTA supports the school system budget?  Yes, as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, you can speak out and endorse* initiatives such as this. 

* The exception to this is if your budget goes to referendum. State Election law limits the time period during which you may endorse (or oppose) a school system budget that is part of a referendum question. Please contact our office directly for further details.


Can a PTA Unit/Council endorse a political candidate?  Can a PTA member endorse a candidate? 

NO! As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, you cannot use funds to endorse or oppose a political candidate.

 
With the new state and federal laws regarding nutrition in place, can I still make cupcakes for my child's in-school birthday party?

Maybe Yes, Maybe No. State law prohibits the sale of certain beverages during school, and recommends healthy food items, but does not set mandates on food brought into the school.  Federal law however mandates that school districts institute a wellness policy, and that policy may or may not allow food-oriented fundraisers or food like cupcakes for school celebrations.  Therefore, it is best to check with your school principal to find out exactly what is and what is not allowed at your school. 

 

Didn't see your question?  Ask CT PTSA!