Thursday, August 13, 2009

Parents-Teachers Association: A reliable school partner in delivery of basic education

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Heads of public elementary and secondary schools with their teachers as well as members of school parents-teachers associations have long been considered by the Department of Education as strong and vital partners in the educational development of children.

That is why, the DepEd regularly issues to the field necessary guidelines and policies designed to further strengthen the partnership of the two groups that work together 365 days a year to ensure effective and efficient delivery of quality basic education.

Needless to say, school heads and their teachers and PTA members must find time to study these PTA-related DepEd directives to well sustain their harmonious relationship and camaraderie with one another and ultimately avoid unnecessary misunderstanding.

Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus in June issued DepEd Order No. 54 entitled “Revised Guidelines Governing Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs) at the School Level.”

Lapus’ order contains several vital guidelines which every right-thinking school head, teacher or PTA member should attempt to always remember since these guidelines are considered by DepEd as the “unofficial” Bible of the organization of teachers and parents in a community school.

The first guideline concerns the election of school PTA executive officers which, unlike in previous school years were chosen at large during a General Assembly, has been mandated by Lapus that these same executive officers, starting school year 2009-2010, should now be elected by presidents of Homeroom PTA earlier selected by their own classroom PTA members.

Lapus further stipulated that all elected Homeroom PTA presidents in a particular elementary or secondary school shall elect a school PTA board of directors composed of 15 members who later will, in turn, choose from among themselves the PTA’s executive officers.

These PTA executive officers are identified by Lapus as the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Auditor and other equivalent positions such as business manager, sergeant-at-arms and public information officer. Their main function is to oversee the activities of the association for one year.

Each of the PTA executive officers has a term of only one school year and cannot hold the same position for more than two terms to give other deserving PTA members a chance to help run the organization, Lapus said, adding that the adviser of the PTA is the school head while the PTA secretary should preferably be a teacher.

According to the DepEd chief, the PTA Grand Assembly – composed of all parents, teachers and non-teaching personnel --- shall be convened by the PTA board of directors at least twice a year in coordination with the school head as to the time, venue and other details.

The PTA Assembly, Lapus said, shall discuss PTA programs, projects, financial statement and other concerns during which a local government official or civic group leader may be invited as resource persons.

The education secretary also stipulated that the PTA Board of Directors is authorized to form necessary committees to handle specific association activities such as Committees on Finance, on Programs and Projects, on Grievance, on Ways and Means, and on External and Community Affairs whose committee heads may come from the Board members or Homeroom PTA Presidents.

A PTA may or may not be incorporated with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lapus said, adding that a Division PTA Affairs Committee, chaired by the schools superintendents, shall be created to monitor various school PTA activities in the city or province.

The collection of voluntary contributions from parent-members should be subject to pertinent DepEd issuances and regulations.

He said that PTA contributions shall be collected by the PTA Treasurer on a per-parent-member basis regardless of the number of their children in school and that no collection of PTA contribution shall be done during enrolment period.

The non-payment of contributions, Lapus stressed, shall not be a basis for the non-admission of or non-issuance of clearances to students.

Lapus also required the PTA Treasurer to deposit all collections of contributions in a reputable bank determined by the PTA Board of Directors even as he emphasized that all disbursements of funds shall be in accordance with accepted accounting and auditing regulations.

The DepEd secretary mandated that “in no case shall any school head or personnel be entrusted with the safekeeping and disbursement of collection. Lapus further directed that PTA Annual Financial statement signed by the President, Treasurer and Auditor shall be submitted to the school head not later than 30 days after the last day classes.

Furthermore, Lapus required the PTA to submit to the School Head not later than Nov. 30 a mid-school year financial statement report every October 30. He stressed that failure to submit such financial statement shall be ground for the cancellation of the recognition of the PTA by the Division PTA Committee upon the recommendation of the School Head. (By Lutchi Castelo-Rimando. The author is the Principal of the Culianan National High School in Zamboanga City.)

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