It is of great benefit for each government school to have a P&C Association. This enables parents and citizens to meet together to determine the needs and aspirations of the school community. The Education Act 1990, ensures that a P&C Association may be established at any government school. Notification of intention to establish an association should be forwarded through the Principal to the Department of Education and Communities. Relevant sections of this legislation are set out in the Handbook.
The objects of these associations are to:
promote the interests of the school by bringing parents, citizens, pupils and teaching staff into close co-operation;
assist in providing equipment required by the school;
report to the Minister the material requirements of the school
assist the teaching staff in establishment of school policy and management in all facets of school activity.
Associations meet on a regular basis, at least once each school term, and carry out activities in accordance with their resolutions.
Forming a New P&C Association
Membership of P&C associations is open to all members of the school community: parents, teachers and citizens. Each association has the right to formulate and amend its own by-laws, which they should attach to their constitution. Two constitutions are available one for incorporated associations and another for unincorporated associations. District Councils are networks where a P&C associaiotn may wish to share their concerns or localised issues. Contact P&C Federation's office for support in the formation of a new association. The suggested steps in the formation of new P&C associations are:
- Calling a public meeting of parents and community to form a provisional committee to draft by-laws to accompany either the standard or prescribed constitution as published in this handbook.
- Circulating the constitution and the draft by-laws to interested parents and citizens.
- Calling a meeting for formal adoption of the constitution and establishment of the association. Election of office bearers as set out in the constitution should occur at this meeting.
P&C associations, to operate successfully, should endeavour to work in co-operation with the school staff who should be fully aware of all activities and events in the school community and should provide as much information on current educational matters for the association's members as possible. New associations will gain support and assistance from contact and involvement with neighbouring P&C associations, district councils and P&C Federation. Affiliation with P&C Federation should be a priority action.
P&C Federation Mail
The information sent to associations by P&C Federation is intended to keep P&C members up to date on educational issues and happenings. It is suggested that associations appoint a member with the specific responsibility of examining the material, including the P&C Journal, and reporting to the monthly meeting.
District Councils of P&C Associations
District councils are situatued in Department Educational areas. Delegates from school associations within the proclaimed area form the council membership, which may provide a wider forum for consideration of matters of concern to each school and to the district area generally.
Conduct of P&C Meetings
It is important that meetings be conducted in an orderly manner and by following a set of rules consistently. P&C Federation has adopted, as its rule for meetings, the Guide for Meetings and Organisations by N E Renton. P&C Federation encourages all associations to familiarise themselves with this guide to meeting procedures, accepted rules and procedures. The following suggested order of business is provided as a guide to associations:
Order of Business
Call meeting to order, welcome current members and introduce new ones.
Record attendance and apologies; and introduce any visitors.
Read and confirm minutes of the previous meeting.
Complete unfinished business from the previous meeting and any foreshadowed motions from the previous meeting.
Read and discuss correspondence, in and out.
Representatives, including school council
Agenda items on notice.
Motions should not be tabled in this section that have not been offered on notice to all members prior to the meeting.
Discuss suggestions, ideas referred to and from committees.
Provide talks and presentations on particular subjects. These should be recorded in the minutes.
Formulate recommendations for corrective action.
Deal with new business items. This may include new urgent matters, rule changes, guest speakers, long-term plans, etc.
Guest speakers may have their time allocated to any part of the meeting, as decided by the meeting.
Confirm date and time of next meeting.
Close meeting, indicating the time.
Money raised by a P&C Association must be used for the benefit of the school. If an association wishes to raise money by special effort for outside interests it may do so, provided that the purpose is noted in the minutes of the meeting and specified in all publicity relating to the special effort. Members of an association should decide at a general meeting how funds are to be disbursed. Funds must be kept in an account, or a number of accounts, which are held at a financial institution with full trustee powers and which are managed by the treasurer.
However, by a formal resolution of the association, an elected subcommittee may operate a separate bank account. All monies received by the subcommittee are deposited promptly in the bank account and all payments made by cheque. The subcommittee should present a current financial statement to each association meeting and its accounts should be audited in conjunction with the audit of the general accounts.
The DEC advises that "the move to school-based budgeting does not provide for the amalgamation of Parents and Citizens Association funds with school funds. Parents and Citizens Associations can continue to operate separate banking facilities as they have done in the past and continue to have control over the application of funds raised". School councils have no jurisdiction over P&C Association accounts.
At times a majority of members may feel it appropriate to expend a limited amount of funds on gifts or occasional activities for certain individuals, as an expression of the association's esteem, recognition or condolences.
Should an association accumulate funds surplus to immediate needs, members may resolve, at a general meeting, to allow the investment of such a surplus to generate a more attractive rate of interest. It is important to remember that any such investment must be placed with a financial institution with full trustee status. This can be in a building society or similar bodies provided they have full trustee status.
The authority to fundraise is automatic, provided the P&C Association is operating under a constitution, which has been approved by the Minister for Education. The authority to fundraise does not automatically give the association the right to offer tax deductibility on contributions and donations to P&C's. Refer to the next section on taxation matters.
Tax Deductibility - Contributions to P&C
P&C Federation has been advised that:
"The allowance of deductions for gifts is governed by the provisions of Section 78 (1) (a) of the Income Tax
Assessment Act. Under these provisions deductions may be allowed only for gifts to funds and institutions in Australia of the particular classes specified in the section. The main classes of funds and institutions so specified include public and private hospitals, public benevolent institutions, public funds for the relief of persons in necessitous circumstances, public funds to finance the acquisition, construction and maintenance of school buildings, public libraries, public museums and art galleries."
As the P&C Association does not fall within any of these classes of funds and institutions mentioned in the section, gifts to school parent bodies do not qualify as allowable deductions. Neither registration as a charity nor authority to fundraise confers the right to offer tax deductions on cash donations unless such donations are made to Australian Taxation Office approved building or library funds.
Financial Institutions Duty
All associations are eligible for exemption from Financial Institutions Duty (State). The necessary forms can be obtained from the bank and associations should apply for this exemption.
Goods and Services Tax and Withholding tax
P&C associations have responsibilities under the new tax system. All parents and citizens' associations require an Australian Business Number. When received, this number should be displayed on all invoices issued by the association. All associations with an annual turnover of $100,000 per year from all association activities, including subcommittee activities, are obliged to register for the GST. The method of calculating the annual turnover is best described by the following equation:
|Gross income (current month and previous 11 months) minus gifts and donations minus input taxed sales and supplies (such as canteen sales of food and income from one-off fundraising events).
Lines of Communication
In the event of any problem regarding the school, the association should arrange to discuss the matter with the proper person. The first approach must be to the Principal. If the matter needs to be referred further, the next approach must be to the School Education Director and then the relevant Department of Education and Communities. Further approaches can then be pursued with the State Office, then the Director-General and the Minister for Education and Training if necessary.
Any approach made to a higher officer will be referred back, so jumping steps is generally not timesaving. If an association refers a problem concerning the school to its local member of parliament, for assistance in its resolution, it will be automatically referred back to the Regional Director and the Principal. Notification to these officers at the same time will generally expedite the consideration of the problem. Each school association is autonomous and, while primarily concerned with an individual school, is able to be represented on district and regional councils and at the Annual Conference of the Federation of P&C Associations of NSW.
The most recent guidelines for the establishment of school councils were issued by the DEC in November 1994.
If the school canteen is managed by the P&C Association, a canteen subcommittee may be established as set out in the Model Canteen Subcommittee Rules. Such a subcommittee is directly responsible to the P&C Association. DEC guidelines, drawn from the School Manual on Financial Management, will be found on the web. A comprehensive guide to running P&C run school canteens can be found in P&C Federation's Canteen Management manual, which can be purchased from P&C Federation's office.
Payment of Employees
Relevant information is best sourced from the Fair Work Ombudsman www.fairwork.gov.au. P&C Federation Staff may be able to assist you in relation to some general employment matters however the responsibility of each association as an employer cannot be delegated.
Associations or executive members acting on behalf of an association may be under a legal liability should any person attending an association meeting or function meet with injury or suffer damage to property arising out of an accident in which there was a claim for negligence or nuisance. It is up to a court of law to determine whether negligence is involved in each particular case. PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE IS GIVEN TO EVERY P&C ASSOCIATION AFFILIATED WITH P&C FEDERATION. The cover provided by P&C Federation is to a minimum indemnity of $15 million. An association can obtain additional cover (to $50 million) for an additional premium.
The Parents and Citizens Associations Incorporation Act 1976 provides for the incorporation of P&C associations. If an association wishes to become an incorporated body under this Act it should make inquiries with P&C Federation's office. Incorporated associations are obliged to adopt the Prescribed Constitution for Incorporated P&C associations. Once incorporated, an association may not amend this constitution.
Incorporated associations set their own additional rules - see Suggested Rules or By-laws which can be amended and enforced by majority vote at any general or special meeting.
All major political parties have an official policy on education. Contact your local State and Federal Members of Parliament and ask them to obtain a copy for your association. As election time draws near, it can be valuable to question your candidates regarding their attitudes to education. P&C associations are political organizations in that they are free to engage and lobby political parties and organisations on a wide range of issues. P&C associations however are non-party political. They do not endorse political parties nor do they promote the wider objectives of political parties.
All equipment purchased and donated to the school by a P&C Association becomes the property of the DEC. The Department accepts the responsibility of servicing and maintaining such equipment, and provides the relevant insurance cover.
If there is equipment owned by a P&C Association which has not been donated to the school, or stock in the canteen, consideration should be given to taking out fire and burglary insurance. P&C Federation's Cash and Property Policy is suitable for this purpose.
Community Development Days
School-based community in-service training takes the form of days where students do not attend school. Parents are expected to participate, not only in the planning of these school community development days, but also in the school-based activities arranged.
Associations should make sure to keep their local municipal or shire council informed of their Office-bearers each year. In this way your school will not be overlooked on civic occasions. At all times the P&C should be seen as an active community organisation. For the same reason it is desirable to establish links with local newspapers, so that they too will recognise your association as a vital force in community affairs, and will in return be an avenue for publicising the activities of your school.
Involvement in School Ceremonies
As the official representative of the parents in the school, the P&C should be involved in all ceremonial and special occasions at the school. These cover such things as the opening of a new school, or of new buildings, libraries, etc. in established schools, Education Week, sports days, centenaries, and community events in which the school is involved. On such occasions the association will of course act with the Principal in co-ordinating parental involvement.
An association may establish subcommittees, however styled, to carry out specific functions on its behalf. Any subcommittees that are established shall report regularly at meetings of the association and follow any direction received from the association. An association may dissolve a subcommittee at any time.
Any funds raised or handled by a subcommittee shall be, for all purposes, funds of the association. Any subcommittees that hold funds (e.g., canteen) shall produce financial statements for each association meeting. All bookkeeping records for the subcommittees, including P&C-run canteens, must be consolidated within the P&C association's annual audit.
Parents' auxiliaries, are subcommittees of constituted school-based parent bodies. As subcommittees, parents' auxiliaries are bound by the constitution of the parent body responsible for their establishment and are unable to act independently of the parent body. Parents' auxiliaries, like all subcommittees, must be elected from the floor of the parent body meeting, but should be able to co-opt volunteers as required. Similarly, they must hand over all funds, after defrayment of day-to-day operating expenses, to the parent body and must make regular financial reports to the parent body. Parents' auxiliaries are not free to expend funds raised. Such funds may only be spent in accordance with a resolution of the parent body to which an auxiliary reports. The auxiliary's financial statements and account books must be audited annually, in conjunction with those of the parent body of which it is a subcommittee.