What is Reflections?

Reflections is an arts recognition program of the National PTA that begins at the local unit level and progresses through councils, state PTA and onto National PTA.  Reflections provides children in preschool through grade 12 with an opportunity to express themselves in six areas: visual arts, musical composition, photography, literature, dance choreography and film/video production.  The Reflections theme is suggested by students in an annual theme search, and changes each year.  The Reflections theme is posted on our website and in the Reflections Tool Kit which is distributed to unit presidents in the summer.


How do we know which officers our unit should have?  What are their responsibilities?

Check your bylaws.  Certain elected officers are essential:  president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.  Your bylaws specify their responsibilities.  You can refer to the Missouri PTA Tool Kit and National PTA Quick Reference Guides for more guidance on what each officer is expected to do.

What is the officer’s term of office?

Check your bylaws for the length of the term and during which month that you need to conduct elections.  A term is usually one or two years.  Officers usually assume their office at the end of the school year.  In other words, they begin their term at the end of the last day of school in the spring.

No one has contacted me yet.  What do I do? 
The president for the upcoming school year should call the new officers to welcome them to the team and set a time to get together.  If you have not heard from the president shortly after the election, call her/him and offer to help.

What is the difference between the executive committee and executive board?

Please refer to your bylaws for these descriptions, but typically:

  • The executive board, or simply board, is composed of the elected officers, principal, chairpersons of the unit’s standing committees, and sometimes teacher or student representatives.
  • The executive committee is composed of the elected officers of the PTA, the principal or another administrator identified to represent the principal, and a member appointed to serve as parliamentarian.

When should the transition of (current to the upcoming school year) officers begin?

Ideally, immediately after the new officers are elected.  It may be necessary to schedule one or more meetings between the outgoing and incoming officers to turn over procedure handbooks, manuals and records, and discuss what worked and did not work.  The outgoing team should share ideas for the future.  Committee chairs should do the same.  Check your bylaws to determine exactly when each officer assumes their duties.

What should we do if the outgoing officers are not cooperating or turning over the books?

It is unfortunate that occasionally outgoing officers may not be completely cooperative in the transfer of leadership.  Request a meeting with the outgoing leaders.  Work with the principal to see if he or she can assist, and contact your council president or regional director for support.  Be resourceful and quickly try to locate copies of as many of the records as you can.  The important thing is to start – set your goals, make plans and prepare for the new school year!


Tips for Operating Local Units

How do we get a copy of the Missouri PTA Tool Kit and National PTA Back to School Kit?

The Missouri PTA Tool Kit will be emailed to all unit and council presidents in early July (if you are unable to receive email contact the Missouri PTA Office.  The National PTA Back to School Kit is available mid July.  All local and council PTAs must register on National PTAs website to receive their kit.   Watch National PTA for notification of when to register for your kit.

What is the difference between standing committees and special committees?

Standing committees are permanent committees created to perform continuing functions and may be listed in your bylaws.  Special committees are appointed or elected as the need arises to perform a specific task (i.e., nominating committee).

What committees should our PTA have?

Standing committees necessary to carry out the work of PTA may include bylaws, membership, parent engagement, publicity/communications, budget and finance, legislative, newsletter, and Reflections.  Other committees are determined by the needs and plans of the local unit.  The names of committees may vary slightly from unit to unit.  The president, in consultation with the other officers, appoints chairpersons of these and other committees.  Refer to your unit bylaws and to the Missouri PTA Tool Kit for other committee ideas.

How do I get ideas for programs and projects?

One of the advantages of PTA is the many “idea” resources that are available to your unit.  Check out the National and Missouri PTA websites.  Read past editions of National PTA’s Our Children magazine online on the National PTA website.  Utilize the PTA Programs Quick-Reference Guide from National PTA. Call your council and network with PTAs in your area.  Attend Missouri PTA Convention and leadership trainings.    Connect with Missouri PTA and other units in your area through social media.  The great thing about PTA is you do not have to “reinvent the wheel.”

What are procedure files? 
Procedure files are a set of materials reflecting the work of a particular office or committee.  The files are compiled by each officer and committee chair for their own use during their terms and passed on to their successors.  The procedure files contain records of events, programs, and projects; and include details of arrangements, evaluations of results, and lists of available resources.  They are a good way for each officer and committee chair to build upon the success of his or her predecessor.  A complete list of what should be kept in procedure files can be found in the Missouri PTA Tool Kit that is provided to each unit’s president.

What is a plan of work? 

The plan of work lists the goals of your PTA and the expected means by which those goals will be reached.  They include a calendar of activities, budget, and membership plan.  The plan of work guides the unit’s activities for any given fiscal year.  Committee chairs also prepare a plan of work for their committees, which must be approved by the Executive Committee/Board.

How is a plan of work put together?

In the spring, over the summer or as school begins, survey your members as to their perceptions of their children’s and the school’s most urgent needs, and how the PTA can help them best meet those needs.  Once identified, these needs should be grouped and prioritized.  The highest priorities should guide you in setting the PTA goals for the year.  Your goals will drive your projects, programs, meetings, and other activities, and will determine your calendar of activities.  To make your plans a reality, estimate how much money your PTA will need to reach its goals.  Working with these plans, identify sources of funds and create a budget.  Do not worry.  There is more information on budgets in the Financial Management Section of this guide.

Running Your Meetings

What types of meetings should our PTA have and how often should they each meet?

There are three types of meetings: executive committee, board and general/unit PTA meetings.  Your bylaws will specify the frequency of general/unit PTA meetings, whereas the president and executive committee will usually set the board-meeting schedule.

Who schedules meetings for the local PTA?  For the Executive Committee?  Board?

The president!  However, consult with the principal, officers and board members to identify mutually convenient dates and times for meetings.  Check unit bylaws for any specifics regarding meeting schedules.

How often should we meet? 

The PTA’s board or executive committee may meet as often as once a month.  On the other hand, the entire PTA membership may only meet a few times a year, to elect officers or adopt the budget.  Consult your bylaws to find out if there is a specified schedule.  If not, determine what works best for your PTA.  Meetings can be an efficient way to get the word out about what’s going on in your unit and what issues you face.  Meetings also provide opportunities for advocacy training, parent education, and family fun.

What is a quorum and how do I know what our unit’s quorum is?

The quorum for your unit is set by your bylaws and is the minimum number of members who must be present to conduct business at a General Membership or Board meeting.  If a quorum is not met at a meeting, then a vote cannot be taken.

What is a Parliamentarian and what does she/he do?

The Parliamentarian is an individual whose primary duty is to advise the presiding officer on questions of parliamentary procedure.  The president should appoint a parliamentarian.  It is recommended that the president select someone knowledgeable about the association and familiar with rules of order.  The parliamentarian should sit near the presiding officer for convenient consultation.  The presiding officer may call on the parliamentarian at any time for advice.  The parliamentarian does not speak unless given permission by the presiding officer.  A member who serves as a parliamentarian does not make motions, debate or vote, except by ballot.

When can a parliamentarian vote?

Provided they are a member, the parliamentarian does not vote on any question except in the case of a ballot (written or paper) vote.


What are bylaws?

The bylaws are your PTA’s most important document containing the specific rules for governing the organization.  They are adopted and amended by a vote of your unit’s members at a general meeting.  If you cannot find a copy of your unit’s bylaws, contact your regional director , the Missouri PTA state procedures and bylaws chairperson, or the state office.  You need to have a copy handy.

What is in the bylaws? 

Bylaws contain the most important things you need to know:  the name of the association, purpose of the organization, basic policies, qualifications for membership, and rules for officers, executive board, meetings, committees, and running the PTA.  If you cannot find an answer in your bylaws, you should refer to Roberts Rules of Order.

How are changes made in the bylaws?

To consider changes to the bylaws, a small committee should be appointed to study the proposed changes and to make recommendations to the board for their preliminary approval.  Then previous notice, as listed in the unit bylaws, of the proposed changes must be given to all members.  A bylaws change requires a two-thirds vote of the members present at the general meeting; a quorum must be present.

Who should have copies of the bylaws?

The entire Board should have a copy of your current bylaws.  Upon request, copies should be made available to all members.