School’s ending soon and that means transitions for kids, parents, teachers—and PTO leaders.
For many new leaders, it can be a scary time if there’s no transition strategy to bring them up to speed. We heard about one group recently that is taking an unusual approach. The six-member executive board agreed to step down as a group, retaining committee responsibilities while an entirely new group of six will step up to board positions. The idea is the new board will have mentors on hand.
But there are many ways to tackle the transition challenge. For example, PTO leaders of the Temple Independent School District in Temple, Texas, will come together this weekend for a morning workshop on PTO basics. Run by the district, the event is intended to give new leaders a primer on PTO group management.
Attendees will get an overview on bylaws, budgets, and nonprofit status as well as discuss ideas for recruiting volunteers and collaborating with each other.
“It started because one PTO parent was so frustrated by being dumped into the deep end,’’ says Regina Corley, PTO president at Western Hills Elementary in Temple.
That parent was Corley, who described a situation that will ring a bell with many PTO leaders: She stepped up to run the PTO at Western Hills in 2009 when a group of grade 5 parents, who had been on the executive board for a long stretch, moved on.
“They left and we didn’t know what to do,’’ Corley says. “We had a tough, tough year.’’
Since then Corley has been on the board in one capacity or another and will serve as president again this coming year.
But in 2009, she and her fellow board members felt overwhelmed. “I remember our first fundraiser,’’ she says. “We all just looked at each other when we realized we had raised $15,000.’’
At the time, Corley was also the director of communications for the school district, a job she wrapped up earlier this year. She shared her rough-start story with the superintendent and they talked about ways to help PTO leaders become more informed. That eventually led to the idea of the workshop and the first one was in 2011.
The district now keeps a copy of each group’s bylaws and budget on file, and new leaders can access those documents when they take over a group.
“What’s come out of it is we have strong, functioning PTOs,” Corley says. “So the next time a group of grade 5 parents moves on, the new officers won’t be completely lost.”
For any leaders who need transition tips, we have many resources on this important topic, including: