Short on new leaders? These tips can help.


There comes a time each school year when current officers are looking to find their own replacements or even just seeking more help for the leadership team for next year. No one wants to be stuck doing the work of six people alone, and your group needs a leadership team to thrive.

But what happens if you can’t fill an office? What happens if you can’t fill any of the offices? Can you even keep going like that? This is one of the most frustrating challenges a PTO can have. And the answer is yes, you can keep going—you can find a solution that works for your group. Here are some possible strategies to try.

Look for help beyond your current volunteer base

  • Hold an event for incoming parents. Scope out their interest in leadership.

  • Look outside your normal volunteer recruitment channels. Is there a grandparent who would participate? Or a local senior—a retired teacher, for example?

  • Pause your recruitment until back-to-school time, when everyone is more energized.

Help your new leaders transition smoothly and keep your group going strong

Change the duties as needed

  • Have “co” leaders if somebody doesn't want to do it on their own. Copresidents are pretty common, but even secretary, treasurer, and committee chair duties can be divided.

  • Rotate duties. For example, if you don’t have a secretary, assign a note-taker at the beginning of each meeting. Ask someone else to run meetings if the person who’s going to be president isn’t comfortable doing that.

Don’t have officers

The key to this solution—and we’ve seen school parent groups do it—is to make decisions as a group and decide how you’ll handle things when you can’t agree. While this isn’t a great long-term solution, it can work for a year or two if you have the right group of people.

Talk to the people who might be interested in helping out. Figure out what feels comfortable for them, and then work together to determine what will keep your group operational (and remember that “operational” might mean fewer activities than you’ve previously planned). Work by consensus, and make sure everyone knows what tasks they are assigned when each meeting ends.

Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly. Tim Sullivan and Craig Bystrynski contributed to this article.


# Maria Bach 2017-05-08 16:05
Can a PTO exist without a President? Our bylaws don't mention anything about what to do if the president position is vacant. Nomination forms for the upcoming school year have gone out but haven't seen any interest.

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