PTA Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are answers to frequently asked questions about PTA.

As always, if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via email or alternatively you can contact Karen Conder, a member of Silver Mesa's PTA Board. She can be reached through email or by calling 801-571-8749.



FAQs: Why PTA is Important
       1.Why should we care about PTA at Silver Mesa?
       2.What are some reasons we should keep a PTA at our school?
       3.What does Silver Mesa PTA mean for me and my family?

FAQs: PTA Programs, Volunteering, and Communication
       4.How does volunteering work at Silver Mesa?
       5.How do I know what events and activities are happening at Silver Mesa?
       6.Reflections? Why don't we just have our own competition in our school?

FAQs: PTA Structure, Legislation, and Advocacy
       7.What are the membership benefits of being part of PTA?
       8.Does Utah PTA run our school PTA?
       9.How does PTA determine where they stand on legislative issues?
       10.Does PTA tell members how to vote in elections?
       11.PTA advocacy - what can I do?
       12.How does Utah advocate for children with special needs?
       13.Can I have a voice in what PTA advocates for?

FAQs: PTA Dues and Finances
       14.Can you explain PTA dues?
       15.Why does part of our dues money go to state and national PTA?
       16.Does part of the money from our fundraisers go to state or national PTA?
            (see Silver Mesa Income Chart here)

       17.Are state and national PTA officers paid?
       18.Why did our PTA send away about $1000 in PTA membership dues this year?
       19.What happens to the money we have in the bank if we switch organizations?

FAQs: PTA and Trust Lands
       20.What are School Trust Lands?
       21.How much money does Silver Mesa get from Trust Lands and how is it spent?
       22.What does PTA have to do with Trust Lands?
       23.Will Silver Mesa still get Trust Land monies if we switch to a PTO?
       24.Where can I find more information on Trust Lands?

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1. Why should we care about PTA at Silver Mesa?

It is time to care about PTA at Silver Mesa! Here is an article detailing why we love being a PTA school and how it benefits our school, our students, and children everywhere.
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2. What are some reasons we should keep a PTA at our school?

There will be no additional startup costs for keeping the PTA in place; changing to another type of parent group will require additional money to create a non-profit as well as other startup costs. 

PTA advocates for all children. PTA has representatives on many committees that serve children. Below are a few examples:
  • Action for Healthy Kids Committee
  • Governors Excellence in Education Commission
  • Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition
  • Utah Special Education Advisory Panel
  • Trustlands Advisory
  • Utah Public Education Coalition
PTA is a great influence for good. The good that PTA does helps all children, not just children at our local school, but children all across Utah; foster children, children living in poverty, children whose parents are working two or three jobs and can't be as involved in their children's education as they would like, gifted children, children with disabilities, children with limited opportunities, etc. 

Are we the kind of people who are willing to reach out and help others or are we the kind of people who will just take care of our own and not worry about anyone else? 

The money that goes to state and national helps with programs that will benefit all children, not just our own. PTA is a well-informed organization with representatives involved in many groups that benefit children. Please help us continue the good that PTA is doing. You can be part of that good.
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3. What does Silver Mesa PTA mean for me and my family?

Our PTA brings many programs and events to Silver Mesa. Here are a few examples:
  • The PTA funds $7,000 for class field trips (buses included)
  • Programs like Junior Achievement and JA BizTown - a day spent at Gateway learning real-life skills
  • NOVA
  • Masterpiece Art
  • Red Ribbon Week
  • Reflections
  • Safety Patrol
  • Book Fair
  • Teacher Appreciation
  • Assemblies
  • Helping with class parties
  • Providing dinners to teachers at Parent Teacher Conferences

The students love these programs and we appreciate our wonderful volunteers. Whether you are a PTA member or not, come help us make it a great year at Silver Mesa!
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4. How does volunteering work at Silver Mesa?

We LOVE our Volunteers! You do not have to be a PTA member to volunteer at our school or in PTA-sponsored programs. Just as in any organization, you need to have rules and bylaws to function properly. 

The only volunteers that need to be PTA members are those that are on the PTA board, those that handle money, and those that are committee chairs. We would love any support and help from our great parents at Silver Mesa.
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5. How do I know what events and activities are happening at Silver Mesa?

We continue to work at improving our communication to members and will do our best this year! Here are a few examples of how we are communicating this year:
  • Our PTA has an amazing Facebook page that is updated by our wonderful volunteer and Social Media Chair, Tamara Farnell.  
  • The Silver Mesa PTA website
  • The PTA will have a section on Silver Mesa’s website that will keep you up-to-date on PTA meetings, volunteer opportunities, and all the fun activities that are brought to you by the PTA.  
  • There is a PTA Newsletter that your child will bring home each month and we will post it electronically as well.  
  • We have a section in our Principal’s Monday Minute so we can communicate with you weekly.
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6. Reflections - Why don't we just have our own competition in our school?

One of the greatest things about Reflections is the ability for students to advance in the competition to the council, district, state and even national levels. If we just created our own competition, there would be no chance of advancement and that is an aspect of Reflections that many students are very excited about.
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7. What are the membership benefits of being part of PTA?

Leadership training is offered at all levels of PTA and is very worthwhile and valuable, not only for the leaders at our school, but especially for the children who benefit from the training the leaders receive.

National PTA offers coupons and discounts to local and national businesses.

Utah PTA has partnerships as well; they include the Utah Jazz, Bees, Real Salt Lake, Grizzlies, Owlz, Raptors, The Leonardo, and Hale Centre Theatre.

National and Utah PTA offer valuable programs such as:
  • Reflections
  • Internet Safety
  • Hope for Tomorrow
  • Take Your Family to School Week
  • Read Today
  • PTA Awards Appointee
  • Arts Education Grant
  • Battle of the Bands 
Free e-newsletters are available, such as: PTA Parent, PTA Takes Action Update, Local Leader News, and Leadership Briefing. 

All children in our school, regardless of whether or not their parents are members of PTA, benefit from the funds raised and programs offered by the PTA. “Every Child. One Voice.”
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8. Does Utah PTA run our school PTA?

No, our Silver Mesa PTA runs the programs at our school. Silver Mesa PTA decides how to spend the money raised at our school and what our priorities should be. The local people who are familiar with our Silver Mesa issues and community are the ones running the Silver Mesa PTA.
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9. How does PTA determine where they stand on legislative issues?

PTA's position is determined by PTA resolutions. These resolutions are supported by research and have been voted on by the general membership. PTA will not take a position on any issue unless there is a resolution or position paper that supports that position. You can look up the National PTA Resolutions here or the Utah PTA resolutions here.  

PTA supports legislation on such things at Public School Accountability, Chronic Absenteeism, Literacy, Child Abuse and Neglect, Foster Care Standards, Suicide Prevention, Electronic Cigarettes, Bullying, Teen Driving, Internet Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Trust Lands, Children with Disabilities, and many, many more topics.
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10. Does PTA tell members how to vote in elections?

No, PTA does not endorse candidates or parties. PTA watches legislation in progress and keeps members informed so members can voice their opinions to their legislators on pertinent issues. PTA supports legislation that will positively affect children.
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11. PTA advocacy - what can I do?

Become aware of what your National and State PTAs are doing and use the tools and resources available at www.pta.org and www.utahpta.org. Utah has a powerful State and National voice on legislative issues pertinent to education and the family.
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12. How does Utah advocate for children with special needs?

The mission of Utah PTA is to help every child realize his or her potential. As part of this mission, in 2012, the Utah PTA Special Needs Committee was formed.

This committee is comprised of representatives from MANY different organizations that serve those with special needs as well as parents and teachers and Utah PTA board members.

The committee has been working to improve outcomes and provide support for students with special needs as well as their families. In the last few years this committee has created the position of PTA Special Needs Representative and has been working to encourage all local PTAs to have a rep on their board. Presentations and training relating to children with special needs have been given at Utah PTA Conventions as well as at other conferences and trainings around the state.

Some of the groups represented on the Utah PTA Special Needs Committee are:
  • Utah Parent Center
  • LDAU (Learning Disability Association of Utah)
  • NAMI Utah (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
  • Utah State Office of Education representatives (including the Utah Special Education Director who is over special education for all of Utah)
  • CHADD of Utah (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Epilepsy Association of Utah
  • DSPD (Division of Services for People with Disabilities)
  • Utah Family Voices
  • Utah Autism Council
  • LCPD (Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities)
  • Utah Down Syndrome Foundation
  • Decoding Dyslexia
  • Allies with Families
  • Utah Kids Foundation
  • Utah Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health
  • USOR (Utah State Office of Rehabilitation)
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13. Can I have a voice in what PTA advocates for?

YES! Absolutely! You can give input on PTA resolutions and positions. Resolutions go through a long process to be finalized. You can make your voice heard at the Advocacy Conference in October and the State PTA Convention in May. 

That is where the resolutions are scrutinized by the membership, changes are made (if needed) and they are voted on. Some of the resolutions are brought forward by local members and some by state board members or committees.

If there is not currently a resolution about an issue you feel strongly about you are welcome to write your own resolution and submit it to PTA.
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14. Can you explain PTA dues?

Our PTA membership dues are very affordable at only $5. There are four levels of PTA: 
  1. Silver Mesa PTA
  2. Council PTA
  3. Utah PTA
  4. National PTA
The $5 dues are paid to Silver Mesa PTA. Of that $5, $2.25 goes to the National PTA, $1.75 goes to Utah PTA, 55 cents goes to Council PTA and 45 cents goes to Silver Mesa PTA.

Since this is not our PTA fundraiser, we do not plan on making much money off of our dues. The dues are charged so that you can become a general PTA member and receive the benefits on a national, state and local level for being a part of the PTA organization. 

As a Silver Mesa PTA, we are proud to report that we had 100% principal and teacher support for PTA last year! We also broke our record for membership with 220 members last year. We are pleased that so many recognize the value of PTA at our school.
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15. Why does part of our dues money go to state and national PTA?


Like many other organizations that are connected to a national organization, part of our local dues goes to state and national to support programs that benefit us at the local level. 
Many programs are made possible, in part, through a portion of local dues. Reflections, Red Ribbon Week, training for local PTA members and PTSA students are just a few of the things made possible through local dues.
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16. Does part of the money from our fundraisers go to state or national PTA?
      (see Silver Mesa Income Chart here)

No, all of the money from fundraisers stays at our school. Only a portion of the membership dues goes to state and national PTA, all the other money from all other sources stays at our school. The chart below shows the income that Silver Mesa received (click to enlarge):

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17. Are state and national PTA officers paid?

No, they are all volunteers who give of their time free of charge, just like the Silver Mesa PTA officers.
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18. Why did our PTA send away about $1000 in PTA membership dues this year?

The amount of money we send to Council, State and National PTAs is dependent on the number of people we have join PTA each year at Silver Mesa. Joining PTA is purely voluntary and our school acts as almost a "middleman" for the membership dues that go to the different levels. We keep our portion of the dues at Silver Mesa, then send the rest on to the different levels of PTA. In reality, we don't really consider the membership dues that we send on "our school's money." Rather than people having to send their money in to State and National PTA to join the association, we accept the money and forward it on to make it easy for those at our school who want to join.

This year we have over 200 members at Silver Mesa so the dues we forwarded along were just over $900. If we had 50 people join, we would only be forwarding about $225 and our school would still receive the benefits of being a PTA school. That being said, we are pleased that there are so many who understand the value of belonging to PTA and have opted to join the association. PTA benefits our school in countless ways, as well as benefiting families and children. Because there are people in our school who were willing to pay $5 to join PTA, we receive training, support, oversight with our finances, the ability to participate in PTA programs like Reflections, and we have millions of member voices advocating for our children.

Everything we receive as a result of members of our Silver Mesa community voluntarily joining PTA benefits our children and children across the country.

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19. What happens to the money we have in the bank if we switch parent teacher organizations?

The money we currently have is considered PTA money. If the parent organization at the school switches, the new organization does NOT receive the money our PTA has in the bank. The money does go back into our school, but it is not for the new organization to use.

They would have to start from scratch and would need to request money from parents for start-up costs and to run the organization.

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20. What are School Trust Lands?

Trust lands are parcels of land throughout our state that were granted by Congress to Utah at the time of statehood. Trust lands were allocated specifically to generate revenue to support designated state institutions, including public schools. Since 1994, the Trust Lands Administration has generated $1.4 billion in revenue to help grow the Permanent School Fund from $50 million to just over $2 billion. Money from this fund is passed on to the schools.
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21. How much money does Silver Mesa get from Trust Lands and how is it spent?

Last year Silver Mesa received $32,175 from Trust Land monies. Money from the interest and dividends from the fund are distributed to schools each year. Every school should have an elected School Community Council in place, made up of parents, staff and the principal. This council is responsible for identifying the school's most pressing academic need and allocating the Trust Land funds in response to that need. The money comes directly to the school.
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22. What does PTA have to do with Trust Lands?

PTA member Sandra Skossen of Monticello, Utah, passed a resolution through the May 1989 Utah PTA convention to look into school trust lands and the revenue they should be generating for schools. PTA played a key role in pushing through legislation in 1990 that resulted in the creation of a legislative task force to study the issue of school trust lands. The task force eventually resulted in the creation of SITLA (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) who now actively manages the land for the benefit of public schools.

Utah PTA continues to serve on committees and work with legislators on policies that affect Trust Lands and School Community Councils. PTA was involved in crafting the federal legislation that allowed the trust lands to be traded out of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. PTA also advocated for wiser investment of the fund including allowing investment in equities back in the 90s and more recently the creation of SITFO, a separate office to manage the investment of the money made off of trust lands.

Utah PTA is a Trust Lands watchdog with a passionate focus on preserving Trust Land monies for public schools.

Trust Lands = Real money for public schools!

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23. Will Silver Mesa still get Trust Land monies if we switch to a PTO?

Yes, Silver Mesa will continue to receive Trust Land money even if it ceases to be a PTA school. But, by doing so, we would lose our strong voice in advocating for Trust Land management and other Trust Land issues
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24. Where can I find more information on Trust Lands?

Utah Trust Lands Administration website

Utah PTA website

Email Utah PTA Trust Lands Specialist Tracy Miller

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