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Question: Overcoming resistance to parent group support?

The administration and school board in the district where I am PTA president do not like the PTA. It seems that every time we try to make changes or improvements, they basically ignore us. A senior administrator went so far as to tell me face-to-face that the PTA was not part of the district and that we had no “standing” or influence.

I’ve read several books and articles on relationship-building and been as nice as I know how to be, but it does not seem to be working. This is a small town and most parents won’t speak up for fear it will hurt their business or a grudge will be held and it will come back to bite them at a future date. Any advice? I’m out of solutions and patience!


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Answers:

Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

It sounds like your administration doesn’t understand the role of your PTA all that well. And typically, in situations where school officials have little or no knowledge of a parent group’s purpose, tension and a lot of back-and-forth can surface between parents and educators—as in your case. Add money to the matter and things can get pretty ugly.

But this situation might be easier to fix than you think. It may just take strong communication and budgeting strategy. First, Elly recommends collaborating with the principal and teachers at the beginning of the year to figure out what the school’s needs are. Decide which activities or programs are high priorities based on your parents’ input and the dollar amount your PTA can reasonably expect to earn for the year. Plan your budget and stick to it; don’t be afraid to say no to requests that do not fall within your group’s budget or goals.

Elly also suggests that you request to be put on the school board’s agenda, if possible, for the first meeting of the year. Publish an informational brochure (with the PTA’s mission, budget, programs, officer contact info, website, etc.) and distribute it to administrators.

When you speak, take a minute to introduce yourself and what your group is about. Then say something along these lines: “We’d love to work with you to ensure that our kids and their families have a great school year. Here’s a list of the budgeted programs and activities we’ll be working on this year to make that happen. We welcome your suggestions.” That way, your school board and administrators know early on what resources and support (financial or otherwise) they can expect from you going forward. Keep administrators and parents at school in the loop with your PTA’s website, flyers, and newsletters, too.

While technically your PTA may not be an official “part of the district” as your administrator maintains, collectively these parents can affect progress for the district if everyone works together. And as PTA president, you can show both parents and administrators the way.


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