Planning a PTA Website

I just got back from the first PTA meeting of the school year at Highland Elementary School, where my daughter Maddie has just started first grade (and where my son Max is likely to start kindergarten next year). I wasn’t able to make any PTA meetings last school year.

One of priorities for the Highland PTA is getting more parents involved. I see a website as a means toward this end, in that it would be available all the time, while real-world PTA meetings can never be. The site would also make involvement easier for some parents able to be involved anyway, but who might want to get or provide updates between meetings.

Were I to set up the site right now, my priorities would be as follows.

  • Provide updates on PTA activity. Some updates might be meeting-based (reminder of meeting, here’s what was discussed, etc.), some between meetings (we’re weeks away from the next meeting, but what do you think of this?).
  • Solicit input, especially from parents and teachers who are not able to attend meetings at the school. No time is good for everyone: this morning’s 9am meeting was well attended, but still must have excluded many families.
  • Be multilingual, or at least bilingual. The Highland community speaks many languages, with Spanish and English being particularly prominent.

I’ve done some searches on terms such as PTA website. There’s a lot of stuff out there, including:

  • PTA sites at the national (US) and state (MD) level.
  • A PTA website builder site. First reaction: the nonprofit side of my brain says that it seems expensive; the for-profit side sees an opportunity in the PTA website builder business, if my pro-bono efforts at Highland go well.

Now,to solicit input on PTA websites. I’ll send out a few emails. But if you, dear reader, have thoughts on PTA sites, please share them here, especially if they include links to successful PTA sites.

8 thoughts on “Planning a PTA Website”

  1. I’ve had a lot of experience volunteering for PTA’s and doing sites for schools, sports teams, etc., and I’d recommend the following:
    1. Be skeptical of any “PTA webbuilder site” – there might be something good out there, but often these specialty membership-type site packages are frustrating to use and can’t be modified if you want to add a feature to it.
    2. Maintaining the site will be a big job, given all the activities and constituencies of the PTA, so I’d recommend you set it up right from the beginning in a way that others can easily share the burden or take it over from you someday. So I’d recommend that you set it up in WordPress, and set up a couple of other people in user roles too – maybe the PTA secretary, the head of the main fundraiser, and someone to translate site content into Spanish. Keep the setup simple – like don’t use custom fields or custom post types or anything else that would be complicated for a non-technical user. I’ve usually found that giving a hands-on training session of about 2 hours, plus written directions, are enough to get most people able to use a WordPress site – like for the PTA secretary to learn how to post the meeting minutes or notices of upcoming meetings, or add items to a calendar widget.
    3. You’ll probably want to use some third-party functionality at some point – like EventBrite for getting head-counts for free events, or EventBrite + Paypal for paid events, or some of the apps that set up volunteering schedules. It is tough to get 100% of your site viewers comfortable in using these things, so I’d recommend that you find things that are mature enough technology that you can stick with for a while – so it eventually becomes familiar to everyone that of course they register for the annual potluck through EventBrite, etc.

  2. Victoria, thanks for your thoughtful response. I do indeed intend to use WordPress. I’ll start very simple and see how things go, in terms of what the stakeholders want and can contribute.

  3. I’ve just recently taken over the webmaster role at my daughter’s school and agree with all of the above comments. Presently they have a site set up using however, it’s too limited in terms of widgets, forms, etc. I plan on creating a mirror site until the wordpress site is fully functional and approved. Interesting comment about PayPal. I wonder if they have a separate agreement with non-profits for rates and fees…?

  4. We have an AWESOME PTA Website/Software package that I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a website out of the box. Not being very computer savvy I can definitely say that it is extremely easy to use. If you can fill out a form you can update your site in minutes. The creator of the site/company is a former PTA board member and let me tell you, she thought of all of the features that you would want. And they continue to add new features (all included in our monthly cost). We looked into creating our own site at $50+ an HOUR. This is all done for you. The cost is $50 a month and the best part is that they also give you the ability to sell Ads on your site. Each month we are able to pay for our site that way AND have brought in new revenue for our school. There’s a complete shopping cart too where we sell all of our tickets and such. No more bounced checks, yeah! It even sends an automatic email to our parents with direct links to everything new we’ve placed on the site (event info, volunteer Ops, News, etc). I really advise you to check it out. The company is VLink and their website is Trust me, it is worth every penny! There are several schools just in our area that are using the site.

    1. Just wanted to let you know that the MyVLink site I spoke about earlier has changed it’s pricing structure to make it even more economical. It’s now only $299 a year. We felt it was worth every bit of $50/mo, but of course were thrilled when they let us know that even though we had a contract with them they would be honoring their new pricing with us too! That’s how awesome this company has been to work with. They let us know about the decrease in price before it was even published.

  5. Andrew so what did u end up doing for your school website? That myvlinks site looks good. I was going to do the same thing for our PTA back around 2018 but other priorities pulled me away. Looks like post covid we are finally moving to a website solution.

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