Election time can be one of great change and intense nerves. Making the change from old to new PTA/PTO officers is a big deal for most schools. But do not worry! We have some tips to help run your transition smoothly.
As your term on board as an officer comes to an end and a new officer is stepping in, how will you help make sure that the new officer is ready? Officer transition isn’t just about electing a new person to a role. It requires the old officer to help the new one understand the organization’s mission, and to give them the necessary tools for carrying that out. Make sure you pass on the knowledge you have gained. This helps minimize the confusion that most new elected officers have when taking on the role, and can also reduce the time the new officers need to get caught up with policies procedures.
Food for thought when making the leadership transition
- Begin searching for potential leaders as early as possible.
- What do you wish you knew in your first weeks of becoming an officer?
- Have a contact list readily available.
- Have all documents ready to transfer over.
- Have your “how to” list and directions on all key activities up to date.
- Any personal notes you have to pass on are helpful.
- Have a new member orientation or welcoming party.
- Be a mentor.
- Create a policy book.
What should be in a policy book?
- Detailed job descriptions for all board positions.
- List of PTA/PTO officers (President, VP, etc.) and committee chairs with contact information.
- Most recent meeting minutes.
- Previous year’s budget.
- Bank account information.
- Files for welcome packets, back to school nights and orientations.
- Potential upcoming PTA/PTO event calendar.
- Keep a list of all events, ex: assemblies, school supply kit fundraiser, spirit wear.
- Key contacts for the school district.
- If participating in a School Supply Kits program, ensure to pass on all the information, explain your experience, and how kits can be used as Fundraiser.
When should elections be held and what should you do if no one steps up?
Normally around the beginning of spring is when many PTA/PTO upcoming officer positions are listed. Being an officer can be exhausting and rewarding but no one wants to do it alone. What happens if no one is stepping up? This can be the most frustrating feeling and challenge you face.
- Try and Connect with incoming kindergarten parents, someone might be interested in taking on a role. Many kindergarten parents don’t even know what the PTA/PTO does. The school supply fundraiser is a great fundraiser to introduce to kindergarten parents and get them involved.
- You may need to recruit again in fall, right after school starts. Energy levels tend to be higher at the beginning of the school year versus at the end.
- Sometimes schools will even let current teachers or staff hold officers’ potions.
How should you walk away?
As mentioned above, many PTA/PTO groups hold elections in the late spring. The election of new officers can bring much excitement, new ideas, and many changes. If you’re an outgoing officer, this can also bring some uncertainty for you. But before your term comes to an end, ask yourself, “What kind of ex-PTA/PTO officer do I want to be?” How will you continue to interact with the group after you leave? This can have a significant impact on the organization.
There may be many different reasons you might be leaving your position, and the circumstances can influence your future with the PTA/PTO, for better or worse. What is the ideal way to exit? With some planning, you can be a good resource and a positive influence for the organization. Always remember your success is the organization's success and we are all here for one reason, our children.
For more tips, you can read this article.