149 Pleasant Street
Newton Centre, MA. 02459
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Committee Chair Toolkit

Committee Chair Toolkit

Thank you for helping to run an initiative or event at Mason-Rice!  We are grateful for your energy and efforts.  We have created this FAQ to make it easy for you to get what you need and get your questions answered.  Feel free to email the vice president for your initiative or the co-presidents with additional questions and we will get back to you directly.

How do I determine the date for my event? 
Some dates are pretty much set in stone based on previous history and others vary slightly from year to year based on the calendar.  Check with your vice president to see if a date has been set.  If it has not, email your vice president & PTO co-Presidents with a proposal of some dates that might work.  The co-Presidents will work with the Principal to identify the best date for the school and get back to you.

How do I book a location?
The book for reserving the Centre is behind the sign in desk in the main office.  If you need a smaller space for a meeting such as the aftercare room, please check the sheets posted outside the aftercare room and email Wendy to confirm the date.  You should check with the specific teacher about rooms that you may need to use for quick meetings after school.

Do I need anything special for an event outside of school hours? 
Yes.  Evening or weekend events require use to pay additional custodian services.  You need to fill out a permit more than 3 weeks ahead of time.  Click this link for the permit:  (http://www.newton.k12.ma.us/cms/lib8/MA01907692/Centricity/Domain/115/USB%20Permit%20A%20Page%201.pdf)

As you get closer to the event, confirm the tables and set-up needed with the custodians.  Also confirm what doors need to be open for the event.

What kind of supplies does the PTO have?
First, if you are running an event where we are providing the food and can use compostables, please contact the Green Team to get the supplies.  The PTO can purchase those supplies in bulk.  Second, if you need general supplies such as tablecloths, pitchers, and serving spoons, you can check the PTO cabinet (the first painted cabinet next to The Centre doors) as well as the lower left cabinets as you walk into the kitchen to see if we have what you need.  If you don’t find supplies that you need, check with the co-presidents about other resources before buying them.

Budget & Money

How do I know what my budget is for my event?
Feel free to email your vice president or the treasurer to find out how much the PTO budgeted for your event.  They can also tell you what expenses such as hospitality may fall in a general expense category not tied to your event.

How do I get a check for a vendor or reimbursement for my expenses?
To request payment for or reimbursement of any expenses incurred for a PTO program, please complete the M-R PTO Check Request Form. (You will find directions for completing it in the document.) If you have any questions about whether an expense can be reimbursed, please check with the Committee Chair(s) and/or PTO co-presidents.

 What should I do with the money raised?
All checks for deposit should be placed together with a Deposit Form in the Treasurer’s box in the front lobby.  Contact our deposits co-treasurer, Rob Swint to let him know that you are leaving checks in the Treasurer’s box.

If you have cash that needs to be deposited, please fill out the Deposit Form and then contact Rob to deliver the cash to him directly.  Cash should never be left in the Treasurer’s box.

Do I need to maintain my own financial records for my event?
If you are a committee head responsible for an event or program that takes in multiple sums of money (i.e. individual checks from parents) or pays out large sums of money (for expenses), we would request that you keep your own individual tally of all those sums coming in or going out, and that you reconcile your tally with any checks that are being deposited and checks that are being written  This will ensure that everything is properly accounted for. 

What if I am over budget?
Connect with the PTO co-presidents if your projected expenses are running higher than your budgeted number.  You can work with them to determine if the PTO can allocate additional funds, utilize existing resources differently or adjust the event plan.

Does the PTO have a Tax ID number?
Yes. Please contact the PTO Treasurer for a copy of the form. All PTO purchases should be exempt from taxes.


How do I publicize my event?
There are several ways to publicize an event although the first three listed are used the most as we continually get feedback that parents prefer to get messages using the existing forms of communications.  When necessary, a flyer, email by room parents or all school blast can be sent.  Ultimately the PTO co-presidents have the final say on whether a blast is warranted given the timing of other communication.

Here is an overview of communications vehicles:

  • Write up a quick summary for the Mason-Rice Notes. You may want to ask for volunteers weeks ahead of your event via the Notes and then publicize the actual event in the Notes a few weeks before as well as the week of the event.  You can submit to the M-R Notes here.
  • Leverage masonrice.org or the physical bulletin board. We have several areas to publicize information on the masonrice.org home page.  Ask the PTO Co-Presidents if one of those areas might be available to use.  In addition, depending on what other events are taking place, you may have access to the bulletin board in the entry hall on the 2nd floor of the school.  You can verify the bulletin board schedule with the PTO co-presidents as well.
  • Put up signs on or around entry doors to publicize an upcoming event.  This is often valuable during the week of the event. It helps to post one at the front door and another at the back.
  • If the need is specific and detailed, send a flyer home in student folders. We do this conservatively so that we don’t waste paper.  If you would like to have a flyer distributed in the backpacks, please consult with the PTO co-presidents before doing so.
  • If a more personal approach is necessary, ask the Room Parent Coordinators for permission to send something to Room Parents. Room parents can then customize the message (if needed) and send to their classrooms.  Often this is done when something specific applies to each room (i.e. when that classroom will be visiting the Book Fair) or when a more personal ask is needed (i.e getting people to attend/participate in an event.)To send a message via the room parents, email our Room Parent Coordinators.  Send them the actual write-up that you want to send and explain why you think it is best to involve room parents.  The room parent coordinators will review the message and let you know if it is not the best fit.
  • Send an all-school blast.  Based on parent feedback, our goal is to limit the amount of emails that we send. On occasion, a school wide blast is warranted to call attention to an event, i.e. to announce the start of the book fair.  Please email the PTO co-Presidents if you think a blast may be necessary for your event.


Are the school copiers available for PTO volunteers and coordinators?
No. The school copiers are for teachers and staff. If you need the copies right away, we recommend bringing your job to the Newton North Production Center.  Details are below.

What is the distribution list for flyers?
We try to make as few copies as possible so we use our Youngest Child List.  The youngest child list contains the name of the youngest child in each family for distribution.  It is organized by teacher and posted in the front office so you know how many copies to distribute in each teacher mailbox.  (The teachers know who is on the youngest child list in their classrooms.)  The current number of families at Mason-Rice is 358.  Based on that we recommend making around 370 copies.

I got the ok to send a flyer home.  How do I do that?
The most cost-effective place to make your copies is at the Newton North Production Center. If you can, drop off your flyer at NN directly and clarify what you need as far as amount, paper and type of copy.  Otherwise, just email it to nnhs_graphics@newton.k12.ma.us with specific copying introduction .  We prefer white or normal weight colored paper and black ink since that is the cheapest.  If you don’t hear back, you can contact Tom Donnellan at thomas_donnellan@newton.k12.ma.us.

When you pick up your order, make sure you get an invoice with your event name on it so that the costs can be allocated appropriately.  Then submit the invoice to be paid using the M-R PTO Check Request Form.

Once your copies are printed, sort the copies into groups by teacher and put the copies and the class list in the teachers’ mailboxes located in the school office. There is a list posted below the mailboxes with just the totals for the number of students in each class. 


How do I get volunteers? 
We encourage you to do a few things to drum up volunteers.

  1. Figure out how many volunteers you need and what you need them to do. The more clear you are, the more likely people will know what is expected and sign up.
  2. Create a sign up at www.signupgenius.com. You will be able to specify the roles needed, the number of volunteers and the dates.  We find that parents respond to open spaces not being filled.  In addition, this creates a record for people to reference instead of coming back to you.  You can also set up a reminder to go out a few days before the event which is always helpful.
  3. Put out a call for volunteers in the Mason-Rice Notes. This needs to be completed by Wednesday at 5pm to make it in the current week’s Notes.  Fill out the form (will link when complete) or send the submission to mrnotessubmissions@gmail.com.  Again, be specific on the volunteer help needed.
  4. Ask people directly. Parents often respond to a personal ask – so reach out to other parents in your classroom, grade, neighborhood, etc. to help.
  5. If you are having a hard tie getting volunteers, connect with your vice president and the PTO co-presidents. The co-presidents may be able to highlight your initiative in their letter for the week and ask for volunteers.

Thank you for volunteering.  Please send all other questions to the vice president responsible for your initiative or the PTO co-Presidents.

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To receive PTO communications, including messages from room parents and our newsletter, please make sure your contact information is accurate in our school directory.