Doing these simple things will help make you a more effective PTO or PTA board member.
by Christy Forhan

5 Things You Should Know About Representing Your PTO in the Community

  1. Always introduce yourself.
  2. Don’t speak on behalf of the school. You might have a great rapport with the principal, but you are not an official representative. Refer school questions to the principal; they are not PTO business.
  3. Don’t share your personal opinions on issues. When you are in your official role, speak on behalf of the PTO as a whole.
  4. Be polite.
  5. Give credit where credit is due.

4 Essential Tips for Working With School Support Staff

  • Introduce yourself. It will be easier to ask the custodian, secretary, school aide, and audiovisual technician for help later if you introduce yourself today.
  • Learn their names—and call them by name.
  • Respect their school jobs. Remember that their primary responsibility is to the school. They are not there to do PTO grunt work. If you need substantial help from school staff, clear it with the principal first.
  • Include them in staff appreciation events.

7 Secrets for Transitioning Your Office

  1. Clean out and organize your old files.
  2. Then hand over the files.
  3. Train your successor side by side.
  4. Introduce her around the school.
  5. Share your best advice (and worst experiences) about the job.
  6. Be accessible in the new year.
  7. But don’t hover; it’s her job now.


#22 Craig Bystrynski 2012-02-25 15:03
Gloria -- That's great of you to step in in such difficult circumstances. Yes, you can absolutely amend the bylaws. If the bylaws don't spell out a procedure for how they are amended, you should include that in your revision as well. The typical procedure is that you read the proposed amendments at one meeting, then vote on them at the next. (Or else require, say, two weeks advance notice to members of the intention to amend the bylaws.) Bylaws amendments usually require a two-thirds vote. Good luck!
#21 gloria 2012-02-25 12:02
I was elected vice pres 2 months ago with absolutely no direction just hard labor. Now I am acting pres, current pres term is up in 2 months. New PTO Board is ready for next term, I then step back down to vice pres. Now, while I am acting pres., can I amend PTO bylaws, which are severely outdated to include additional officers? One being a Director of PTO that enforces the bylaws and provides some type of orientation for new officers that are transitioning in to PTO like I was for the first time.
#20 Sara 2010-03-09 20:48
I'm also wondering if there is a conflict of interest in having siblings serve together on the board! Thanks!
#19 Rose 2009-06-12 17:11

My term of being President is over today. It was a bitter-sweet departure. The Vice-President and her husband gave the PTO a difficult time during our last fundraiser and left a bad taste in my mouth. I will not be returning next year due to my child leaving the program which he is currently enrolled. There are not many parents involved but plenty of teachers. The Vice-President and her husband will be the new board for the upcoming year, not by vote, but because there are no other parents willing to participate. Is there a conflict of interest having spouses on the board? Just curious.
#18 Craig Bystrynski from PTO Today 2008-11-20 19:14
Hi Kristina -- Check out the link that says "President" in the shortcuts box at the bottom of this page. You'll find lots of info there. Specifically, I'd recommend the articles "You're Elected—Now What?" and "My Life as President" You'll also get plenty of advice on the message boards: Best wishes! -- Craig
#17 Kristina 2008-11-11 06:08
Hi, i am a new PTO president and we are just getting our organization up aand running. I find PTO today a big help, but i was wondering were there any tips for a new PTO and being a president for the first time
#16 Craig Bystrynski from PTO Today 2008-11-07 16:51
Martha--Check out the article "Make the Principal Your Partner." On our page titled "The Prinicipal," you'll also find advice on negotiating with the principal plus a story on how some real disputes were negotiated and resolved. Just click on the link that says "The Principal" at the bottom of this or any article page. Good luck! -- Craig
#15 Martha 2008-10-30 17:12
I am trying the regain structure in our PTO. Our principal and school secretary have taken over many events and fundraisers. They do not want to let go and let our current (very organized,very active) PTO take over. This is making it very difficult to restructure, plan and prepare for next year. Any ideas how to get them to let go and let the parents run it?
#14 Craig Bystrynski from PTO Today 2008-10-30 16:01
Lori -- That's a great question for the message boards. I bet you'll get a lot of feedback from folks who have been in the same situation. You might also find the article "How To Retire Gracefully" helpful. It doesn't directly answer your question, but it gives some insight into the mindset of people in that position. Here's the link: --Craig
#13 Lori 2008-10-28 23:28
Our President last year is having a hard time stepping down. She is involved but is making hard to run things our way. Any suggestions?

Add comment...