Question: prerequisite for officers

We were thinking about ammending our bylaws. Can you make it a prerequisite before running that you have to attend a certain amount of meetings? Can we make it a prerequisite for president that you have to have held another board position before you are allowed to run for president?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
You can do both of these, but I wouldn't recommend either one. First, requiring a president to have held a board position. At first look, this seems like a very logical rule, and it would be great if all PTOs presidents could have experience on the board before taking over. But what happens if, for instance, you have five officers -- three of them have children moving up to the next level so they won't be around next year, and the other two aren't interested in becoming president? Just about every group at some point struggles to find a candidate for president. Approving this bylaw would severely limit your pool of possible candidates. The other rule about attending meetings is similar. Right now it might fit your situation. But what if you have two potential candidates for treasurer -- one has attended several meetings, but you think she's too disorganized to do the job well. The other is a CPA who has attended several events and volunteered but never been to a meeting. The second person might clearly be the better choice, but your bylaw would prevent her from using her professional experience to help the group. If you do decide to add the first bylaw about presidents, at least expand it to include committee chairs. An alternative would be to establish a president-elect position (or similar title), where the person would serve on the board one year and become president the next year. That would solve the problem of having presidents be too inexperienced, and it wouldn't prevent the group from finding someone else when necessary. For the other bylaw -- attending a meeting before you run for office -- I'm not sure what you gain by that. People don't learn that much from attending a single meeting. Issues like never having attended a meeting make sense to consider when choosing who to vote for, but I don't think they work as bylaws. You might consider creating a training program for new officers. I know one group that created a PowerPoint on being a PTO officer, created binders for each position with key information, and had new officers meet with existing officers before taking over. That really got everybody ready to go from the start of the year!

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