Not really sure where to post this. We do a yearbook every year and the PTO is the one that does this. For the past 15yrs we have used a publishing company, and this year the principal signed a contract with a different company (his friends) without ever consulting me (PTO PRESIDENT). This is my first year as president, and his first year a principal...stepping up from vice principal last year.
Does he have the right to do this? Our PTO name is not on the contract, so does that mean that we the PTO do not have to pay for this yearbook? I'm furious at him for doing this, and when i had a meeting with him about it. He had his "secretary" do the meeting, and he said basically nothing. The school wants to basically oversee the yearbook this year and decided who they wanted to publish it....but have the PTO pay for it. I want to tell them that NO we are not paying for it, that the PTO board did NOT authorize this contract. Can i do that?
It wasn't good for him to sign that contract without consulting you.
That said, you probably can't do your own yearbook without his help/permission in getting all the school photos you want to put in it ... And if the school ends up with no yearbook because the PTO didn't pay for it, there would be a lot of angry parents (and unhappy kids).
Do you have a real objection to this other company, other than that they're his friends?
Our PTO does the yearbook also; last year, the principal brought in a new company that he also chose for the school photos, and had that company give us a presentation on how they could do the yearbook for us. We actually liked what they showed us.
Tough situation -- can see why you are frustrated.
Thought gjcoram shared some excellent thoughts.
A few more things to think about:
1. You should honor the contract the principal signed (big caveat -- unless there was an existing contract with the other company). Not to do so would be burning bridges big time.
2. Suggest that you and other board members sit down with the principal and explain that you are not his personal checkbook -- in a diplomatic fashion, of course ; ) Here is an excellent article to read before that meeting:http://www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/176-negotiating-with-the-principal
3. Would also be a good idea to work into the conversation that you are the experts on the school yearbook... you have been running this for x number of years, and supply the labor.
I guess the bottom line is that you want to step back and remember that you are going to be working a lot with this principal. You want to handle it in such a way that you don't let him walk on you or your group but also don't want to establish a contentious working relationship. Here's another good article to read:
Many times, simply asking questions helps the person who arbitrarily made a decision understand that he/she really should have worked with you prior to making the decision.
In this instance, I would want to know:
1) What is the vendor's experience in producing elementary school yearbooks? Ask to see several samples of books they've produced that are comparable to those your PTO has produced in the past (cover stock, paper weight, # of pages, page size, four color process, and any special features such as an embossed cover).
2) What is the price per unit and what is that price based on? (What finished product does that price buy -- are there any parts of the production process, like graphic art production, not included in the price)
3) What is the production timeline (When are art files required, what format, when are proofs provided, can they meet the delivery timeframe of "x" date)?
If, because of the change in vendors, the PTO may incur new, additional costs such as re-creation of art files that are proprietary to the original vendor. If that's the case, it would behoove you to tell the Principal that these costs are unanticipated and it would be difficult for the PTO's budget to accomodate these unexpected expenses. Since the decision to change vendors was made without the PTO's input, it would be fair to ask the Principal for funds to defray those costs. Alternatively, you could ask the Principal to choose which of the other benefits the PTO provides the school should be cut to accomodate these unexpected expenses. (Basically, telling him that he can't have his cake and eat it too).
Do the vendors your PTO use have to first go through an application process in order to be approved by the school district? If the Principal's friends haven't gone through that process, and if it's a lengthy process, that might be your "out" for this year.
It's hard to be a PTO president. No wonder ours last year threatened to quit so often. haa. I met with my board and 1/2 wants to just tell them that we are not paying for it, and let the school handle it. I would LOVE to do that too, but i have to be the bigger person. I have to work with the school and do what is best for the kids.
Even though i didn't get an apology from the principal for signing without disgussing. He now knows how i feel about the situation, and maybe that might make him think first before doing something like that again. If not...then i will MAKE SURE he knows next year that the PTO will not honor a contract that is not approved and signed by the PTO board. I've not met with the new representative nor have i seen any samples of a yearbook. I think we are pretty much going to sit back and let the school handle it this year. I asked about him having time to put this yearbook together as it is very time consuming. He and the secretary said they have already set aside time to work on it during the day. Nice to know they are working on yearbook during school time.
The whole school seems uneasy this year. Teachers are writing up so many demerits for stupid things and they generally just don't seem happy. The front office is not the normal laid back happy people that it normally is. Same people...just don't seem to be happy. The principal is not new to the school, but stepped up from vice principal to principal......and i'm not sure what is going on, but no one seems happy. Maybe the control has gotten to his head or something??
I dunno, but i'm biting my tounge and letting the school handle the yearbooks. If i don't it will probably be a miserable year. He will soon find out just how much time it actually takes to put it together.
In the last part--when you say let them see how much work it is---I'm doing that a lot this year with our new HSA president. And that's actually one of the best strategies. People who aren't the ones who have been tasked with a job before---particularily something as consuming and long term as a yearbook, often think it's easier than it is. That they can do it better. And that's probably because you made it look easy.
I also feel for you on the new boss/new job aspect with the teachers and new principal. For a variety of reasons (not the least of which is administrator pay for Catholic schools is worse than for teachers), we've had four principals in 6 years. And each time the administration changes, thus so does the tone of the school. And so do the rules. Right now, we're on to a new principal as of this week. From what I saw at my vantage point last year, it's really the best thing for the school. But now everyone is on egg shells again, wondering what's coming up.
I won't add a lot to the strategies posted---they're good. But if the issues and power trips continue to the point that going to school becomes miserable for everyone under this new person, I would definetely consider what needs to be done to escalate things--especially if this is a private school that depends on enrollment to stay open. Sounds like it's bigger than just the yearbook.