For Ken Kuhl, Parent Teacher Associations are an avenue for parents to elevate their voices. But of about 140 campuses in Fort Worth ISD, only 60 have a PTA.

For parents wondering how to kickstart a Parent Teacher Association, The Fort Worth Report put together a guide for how to form an organization at your local campus.

“One challenge I make when talking about PTA is for everyone, not just parents, to join at least one PTA in their community,” Kuhl, president of the Fort Worth Council of PTAs, said. “It is a vital and informative connection to our future. And for parents that don’t have a PTA at their school, to join one nearby for the connections that might help them find the catalyst to start one at their school.”

How do I start a new PTA?

Starting a Parent Teacher Association is as unique to each campus as schools are. Traditionally, PTAs start with parents coming together wanting to do great things for their children, Kuhl said. 

PTA’s mission

To make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.

Parents or community organizations wanting to start a PTA can reach out to Texas PTA, a nonprofit organization that can help people start chapters at their campuses.

Online, the Texas PTA takes you through the forms to fill out to start a local chapter. From there, you’ll get an IRS tax identification number. There also is a template available to create bylaws for the chapter.

Kuhl is able to provide counsel to people starting an organization. Someone from the nonprofit Texas PTA is present at the first meeting to give advice and help elect officers.

What can a PTA do?

It was a desire to be more involved in his daughter’s education, beginning with prekindergarten, that started Kuhl’s PTA journey.

He quickly learned how many parents were involved because they care not only about children, but also the teachers and the school itself.

“It’s an avenue to advocate and elevate your voice as a parent because you have all these other parents with you in that school to advocate for your kids,” Kuhl said. “Every parent advocates for their kid every day that they talk to their kid’s teacher, right? They’re advocating for what their kid needs in some special way or some general way to have a successful experience in a public school.”

The next level is looking at the needs of a particular campus. That means finding solutions for issues like potholes in the parking lot or the need for a new air conditioning system, Kuhl said. 

Often, the association’s advocacy work can go to the school board, local elected officials and state representatives, Kuhl said. Parent Teacher Associations also help raise money for various needs, like field trips for students or playground equipment.

“What one campus needs, another campus might not need at all,” Kuhl said. “So that fundraising element and how you advocate for dollars for a kid is very unique to each campus.”  

What happens at a PTA meeting?

Meetings are meant to be somewhat informal but still productive. Kuhl said most meetings aren’t following Robert’s Rules of Order, but are still structured to meet the needs of the chapter.

Like any organization, many meetings are spent going over the budget, Kuhl said. Members decide together what the funds should be used for based on what is needed at the campus.

Then, the members will plan fundraisers or other actions to solicit donations needed to accomplish the organization’s goals. 

Having a PTA helps with advocacy in schools, Kuhl said. It’s one thing for one parent to call a campus about a pothole, but it’s another thing for a PTA president to make that call and say there are hundreds of members concerned about that pothole.

“That advocacy voice is key, and not only that, but bringing those parents together to decide what those priorities are,” Kuhl said. “You could ask 500 parents at a school what they think that school needs most, and you get 500 answers.

“But you put a PTA together, and the membership sits in a room and talks about things and … those priorities build on one another,” he said. “You get more ideas and you work together to flush out those goals for the school to support whatever those parents feel like should be the direction to move the school.”

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at kristen.barton@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. 

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Kristen Barton

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...