How Does Your PTA/PTO Work with the Principal?

Updated on September 18, 2011
K.B. asks from Petaluma, CA
4 answers

I have just begun a term as co-president on our elementary PTA and we're wondering how things work at other schools. Do you work closely with the principal, or is s/he likely to be more hands off and let the PTA do its thing?

Long story short, we are trying very hard to change the way PTA does things, to be more inclusive, informative, and to make it very easy to get involved. We're running into stumbling blocks in the front office because our principal is very cautious and slow to change -- everything has to go to committee and takes forever, and it's very frustrating to be on someone else's timetable or abide by their idea of what's important and not.

So we wonder how it works in other schools, what can we expect, what can we ask for? Is it ok to produce our own newsletter, or should all communications be approved by the principal? What do you think?

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answers from Chicago on

So far with ours it all goes thru our principal but she is very flexible and reasonable. We do not have to go to comittee with stuff so far it's who wants to do what? Who wants to help the chairperson of this event? Run your plans by the Principal and PTA President, present it to the group at meeting and get it done.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We are pretty shoot from the hip. I am o the high school ptsa board and we meet monthly with the principal for a board meeting. I did the same thing at the middle school and even the elementary school in another did the same thing.

We have spent all of last school year trying new things We have a great principal who is a joy to work with.

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answers from Modesto on

It sounds like your school is in for a treat!! I can feel your energy and enthusiam :O) Thtat is exciting, but at the same time, can be overwhelming for some principals if it's "new".

I would set up a meeting with your principal, let he/she know you want to make an impact this year and you want to know the guidelines that your PTA is supposed to follow. These guidelines usually come from the District, and are then modified for each campus.

Yes, getting things done can take up to 2 months sometimes, due to ByLaws and such. So, having your budget ready for the upcoming year will help handle re-occuring school needs alot quicker. For example, if your school annually asks your Club for field trip money, make sure there is a "line item" already within the budget that meets those needs. This adjusting needs a club vote (usually), but really helps keep up with the pace of the year if reoccurring items are already in the budget.

Our school funds it's own Newsletter. We list messages from the PTA President, principal and all clubs or announcements. We get it approved by the principal (along with all other correspondence....district office requires it), and then it cirrculates through the elementary weekly folders to parents.

Our principal allows our enthusiam, yet we still have guidelines to follow. I've learned that our principal checks with the District on many occassions to make sure all was being done correctly. Many times its a "district policy" and not a principal vote. This is why it can take longer to get approval on certain things.

First thing I would do in your position would be to review your budget line item by line item. Then give a copy to your principal and secretary with a note asking "is there anything else that shoyld be on here?" and ask if the current #'s are a close projection. Then revise your budget and have your club vote to approve. If an item is on your budget already, then it doesn't need to go through the "sytem" of having it added to the agenda for introduction, then the following month to vote.

When it comes to fundraising any money, the principal is required to "clear it" thru the District Office. Even if it's been the same fundraiser for years. So let he/she know all your fundraising plans as soon as you can.

I could go on and on......obviously :o) If you keep open and patient and show your principal that you are trying to do the right thing to benefit the students, it will go well. But at most campus', the principals decision is the final one.

Good luck!!! Have fun! The students are going to love you guys!

~N. :o)


answers from Austin on

First of all the PTA is not run by the Principal like a PTO.

You need to look at the PTA rules in your state. Find out what your rights are for working with your Principal and your campus.

The best way to work with the Principal is always to request what it is the Campus is working on this year (the Annual Campus Improvement Plan) and onward for the next 4 years.. There should be a Campus plan that the district requests.. Get a look at it.

Then ask the Principal how the PTA can help meet these goals. Maybe consider picking one of the goals to concentrate on. Make a plan and present it to the Principal.

The other thing we always did at the end of a school year was to send out a survey to Teachers and Parents. No names needed to be signed to these surveys, so people could be honest. It asked about what people liked, what was needed to be improved and what was needed to be dropped or totally changed on Campus.

The teachers were asked what they needed or wanted for their classrooms. Some teachers needed new sets readers (sets of books for their studies) . Some wanted the Exercise balls for the students that cannot sit still Some wanted money for field trips to expand a certain section of study etc..
Remember to also ask the "Special area" teachers also..Library, Music, Art, PE, Foreign Language and Special Ed

One of the first years our daughter was at the elementary school was to make sure EVERY classroom was being taught with the "gifted and talented curriculum". Goal was met and is still going today. New teachers not certified in the curriculum are provided with the supplies needed and the training. We try to provide the stipend to send them to the training or school.

Way back when ~ One year at our school one of the goals was to have better communication between the teachers and every parent at the school. Goal met, this elementary was the first elementary school in Texas to have a technology room with its own website. The parents also took computer classes on campus also.

One of my favorite projects is when the teachers decided they wanted to stop the bullying and decided to use the "Character Counts" Curriculum.. This was a collaboration with parents and teachers. Lots of volunteers and lots of planning. There was no way the teachers would have had time to organize and implement this. The PTA gave a stipend to a teacher to take the course in Calif. one summer and take this course. She was already going to fly out there with her family to visit and stayed with her inlaws so she also paid for her own flight. The PTA and Principal together worked with the district to get them to pay for the Curriculum since it was part of the Campus improvement plan.

Another goal was to meet the districts rules on the expectations for every student in school to be given (taught) to the students.. We worked on posting the information in every classroom in the school handbook, on the website and again, informed the parents every school year.. This is still part of the beginning of each school year.

Most times it is not money that is needed, but more parent involvement. Helping to train parents on homework and how to help their children study, How to help a child get organized. Holding information nights of children.s behaviors and what to expect of them. We would bring in guest speakers. We would make up hand out packets.

If you cannot get your Principal to move, then the PTA can come up with their own goals for the school for your projects/.

Of course Curriculum cannot be changed or added, but if you find a project you all decide the school needs you just have to inform the Principal and make sure it does not disrupt the every day working of the school. You can even go to the Principals Area Supervisor (their immediate boss) to also inform them of the plan.

I hope this helps. At each school the PTA is there to help the campus reach its goals. It always helps when thre Principal is always included, but a few may feel like they are being invaded.. So be sure to let them know you are there to help the whole campus.. Stay organized and keep the communications open..

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