Question: Help needed for PTO Board

I have been on our elementary school's PTO board for 4 years. Last December (2011) I assumed position of President after our Pres. and VP left at the same time. I have tried everything I can to make this board of ladies a well functioning, professional acting, group, to no avail. Our treasurer can't count with a calculator, much lesson follow simple instructions on how to make a deposit. The best thing about our Board, our secretary, moved. The one who filled her spot still hasn't sent out minutes from our meeting well over a week ago. Our recycle coordinator wants to collect everything under the sun. One member doesn't know what day of the week it is, much less what her responsibilities are. I have tried to gain some kind of control of meetings by introducing Robert's Rules of Order, which I was told are ridiculous, and the members refuse to follow. Reading the minutes takes to much time. Voting on everything is a burden. I dare not discipline anyone for a "no-show", even though our by-laws are very clear on the steps to handle such, and I do so "by the book". I am told that I am bullying them, or that I am unfair. (Please be aware that I am very fair. I have never "disiplined" anyone without just cause.) Please give me any and all advice you can think of. I'm at my rope's end, hanging on by a very thin strand. I've always considered myself a good, strong leader, but this group makes me question that self assessment!

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
Hi there,

Your commitment to this parent group is obvious and you're to be commended for how hard you are trying. I think you've hit on something that many PTO leaders face. You want to run the group in a "well functioning, professional acting'' way as you said. But, the issue is your people -- fellow board members and general members -- are all volunteers. They probably have very little spare time to begin with, yet, they are giving it to the parent group because they care about their kids and their school. They may not be the best at math or at following instructions, but they are there, willing to pitch in. For that alone, they deserve your respect.

I am wondering if it would help to look out at these volunteers and figure out what they would be good at and see how they can help the parent group best instead of feeling frustrated about what they can't do. I know that sounds simplistic, but it might be just the path to go on. Connecting with other parents, developing relationships, building trust, it's all a process and a journey, really. Certainly not one that can easily be completed in a matter of months.  

We have some great articles on PTO leadership that you might find helpful:

Good luck with all you are doing and let us know how things unfold this year! 

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