The 2020-21 school year is upon us, and the PTA year is about to get into full swing! Hopefully, your board of directors had a productive summer retreat and is planning a fall membership drive and the first membership meeting of the year. In many areas of Washington, membership meetings will need to be held virtually, which may require a little additional planning.
If you are new to hosting virtual meetings, get to know your virtual meeting tool’s online support – there should be tips for setup for all the features, including screen sharing and login requirements. Host one or more practice meetings with a few board members.
Whether the PTA meets virtually or in person, the same items of business must be done.
- Approve the 2020-21 budget – Even if your membership approved a 2020-21 budget in the spring, adjustments may need to be made. The board of directors should review the approved budget before the meeting and make recommendations to the membership for any necessary changes.
- Approve the standing rules – Standing rules are the set of conditions the members impose on the running of the PTA, and they need to be approved annually. They should be reviewed by the board prior to the meeting to ensure they are up to date with all requirements. The Leadership Guides section of the WSPTA website has standing rules templates. One important addition to your PTA’s standing rules is to add language around electronic voting. Electronic voting by electronic ballot, survey, poll, or email is allowed by law but only if it is explicitly permitted by the PTA’s standing rules. The WSPTA blog post Taking Care of Business through Virtual Meetings has more details.
- Present the results of the 2019-20 financial review to the members. If your PTA has not yet completed the review, which is required in order to maintain your fidelity bond, please see Financial Reviews During COVID-19.
- Do you need to hold elections? Washington state nonprofit laws require a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer to be elected by the members. Some PTAs did not elect a complete slate of officers in the Spring. If your PTA falls into this category, you will need to take several steps to make sure you can hold a legal election by virtual meeting. Taking Care of Business through Virtual Meetings will walk you through each of the steps.
- Elect a nominating committee. This is required by the WSPTA Uniform Bylaws and is part of the WSPTA Standards of Affiliation. Three members must be elected to a nominating committee at least 30 days prior to the election. Electing this committee early means that they have all year to do the work, you are asking for volunteers at one of the best-attended meetings of the year (hopefully, before people are over-committed), and if you are unable to get three nominees at this meeting you will have additional meetings at which you can continue to work to get three nominees.
Plan on having something additional to offer your members once the business is complete. The first meeting is a great opportunity for your principal to give an update on the start of the year – there are lots of things about this school year that are different! Plan ahead with your principal and make sure you know what format for taking questions they are comfortable with. During the meeting, act as the moderator by setting ground rules and expectations for how members will participate and ask their questions.
With a little planning, you can have a great (virtual) first membership meeting of the year!