What Have I Gotten Myself Into??? PTA President Advice Please!!

Updated on January 17, 2012
S.M. asks from Carbondale, IL
10 answers

I have been asked to be President of the PTA.......I am worried I may be in over my head!! Advice please!!!!!! I am a former teacher but haven't taught in a public school in 6 years and worked part time as the assistant director of an enrichment center and have just become active on our PTA this year. No one else wants the position and I am pretty sure I can handle it......but am certainly worried about the drama that may come with the job. What works for your PTA? What do I need to make sure to do? How do I make everyone feel included? How do I find the right people to get things done without doing it all myself? Is there anything I definitely need NOT to do? How do your meetings work? What's the best activity or event that your PTA has done? The best fundraiser? How do you get more parents to join and take part??? How do I change things without upsetting the past PTA board members? Any and all advice is welcome!! Thank you so much!!!

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answers from Cleveland on

No advice just wanted to say THank you so much for stepping up. Maybe see if the previous pres would give you some advice. you don't have to take it all, but at least it would be a start.

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answers from Austin on

I was PTA President at 2 different schools. We had the reputation of being snobby. I did not find it that way and so I reminded members "we are to be inclusive not exclusive." I made sure we reached out to new parents. We were always trying to say hello and make sure parents always knew many ways they could volunteer on Campus. We worked with the Principal to find out what types of help the campus needed.

One mom even started a welcoming committee that met once a month (at the neighborhood coffee shop) (even during the summer, they met on the playground) to welcome new or interested parents. It had great results. each family was given a "buddy parent" that would answer any questions and explain anything new families should know.. Many of these new parents then became buddy parents in the future. This committee also provided the front office with information packets. This included the Entire School district information, the Campus information and the PTA information.

Our PTA was very organized and had Committee folders that were passed on at the end of each year to the new chairmen of those committees. Notes and updates were placed in there so we knew what had been successful the past years and what had not worked.

I also learned a few tips from a former PTA President. Alternate meetings so that 1 month they are at lunch time and the next in the evening.. This way working or non working members had chances to attend.

Post the next school years PTA meetings and events in the spring before school lets out so parents can write them down on their Calendars.

Send the Agenda out the weekend before any of the meetings so parents can check it out and see if they want to attend. Post the minutes the next day so people can see what was discussed.

Start the meetings on time.. every time.. Not your problem if people are late. They will learn to get there on time. This will also help the people that got there on time, not feel like their time and effort was wasted.

People that have suggestions or complaints. Put them in charge of the project they feel was not run well or could be improved. Let them know you" like their ideas and enthusiasm.". and let them know "they are now honored with being the chairperson next year". Immediately get their name, their child's name, their email and phone numbers. Let them know you are passing on this info to the current chairperson so they can pass along the Committee folder. IF they tell you they are too busy, remind them they have the entire year to plan.. and to find members to help them for the following year.

At the end of the school year, send out a request or questionnaire to the parents as well as the teachers, the Principal and the school staff, asking them what they liked, did not like, what suggestions they have.. and what they feel is needed.

We actually listed every event, every purchase.. etc, that the PTA sponsored on the questionnaire. People were so surprised by all of the volunteering, and fund raising and items purchased for the campus in just one school year. .

Be sure to ask people directly to help. Many people are just waiting to be asked. Dads are parents too. Make sure if you ask one parent you mention their spouses are also invited to help.

If it is a large committee, let people know they can buddy up with a friend. Many times one person is good as the "Voice" the other is good at the worker bee part. Some of the strongest committees were made up of parents that were a good mix of personalities.

Our most profitable events were our Fall Carnival. We asked for sponsors for each of the booths. This means we asked families if they wanted to sponsor for instance the Go fish booth.. This meant for $50. That family would have their name on the booth and the $50. went towards the prizes that were given out.. Same with the inflatables, the food booths.. etc. It ended up all being underwritten and so it was all profit AND it was tax deductible for these families!

The Auction was an adult only even. This was usually held at a restaurant or night club that a parent owned. They would sell us the food at cost and provide a bartender or 2 to work the cash bar.. It was s silent Auction as well as a live Auction. The cover was usually $8.00 per person and this covered the meal.

Of course the Gift wrap sell was always held and we sold the Grocery store Gift cards each month..

These are just a few of the things we did and they still do. I am still best friends with so many parents, teachers and all of the Principals from all of the schools our daughter attended. Our children are now about to graduate from college and it is so fun to have a community that still enjoys getting together with each other.

Have fun...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Just be sure to get the word out, in advance, when your meetings are and keep them brief and to the point. Be sure you get any/all contact information out for you, the VP, Secretary, Treasurer and any/all committee members so people know how to contact you to volunteer and make sure to encourage people to contribute/help. To be sure you don't have to do it all, be sure to allow people to be responsible for certain tasks and then let them do it.

Good luck.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

PHew! I feel for you!
Make sure meetings fall on different days of the week. My kids school used to have every monthly meeting on the first Wed of the month. Well, my kids go to martial arts on Wed so I could not ever attend.
Do meetings at 6pm or later so working parents can attend easier. It gives them more time to get home, feed the kids. Our school also has a 'day care' room set up for those parents that must bring their kids with them - I usually use it because my husband works out of town often on an unpredictable schedule.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Be inclusive of ALL members and do not allow the "cliques" to dominate all decisions and activities. I'm involved in our PTA, but too often see them turn away those who want to help but aren't on the 'frequent flier plan.'
You might also (as a former teacher) get a feel for those activities that teachers just view as a pita.......
Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

What ours does, I am VP, is keep all of our documents, letters, handouts, fundraiser excel sheets ect on two thumb drives. One stays on campus in our cabinet and the other is in my purse at all times. Make sure to make nice with the principal and esp one teacher of each language. You will want the teachers with other languages so they can help write/proof read your bi lingual flyers. My school is a bi lingual school so it's important for us, we also have a lot of Indian and Polish families. Joining - still figuring that out! My favorite is the Scholastic Book Fair, that might be b/c it's my "baby". You need to find if there are any rules that are controlled by the school district before changes are made and not go "hog wild" with the changes. Our President runs the meetings starting with the immediate goals, passing it on to the members that are running a current or up coming event, then on to the members that have completed the last event to sum up the success, offer the floor to the principal, then open floor for discussion.

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answers from Raleigh on

Do you have to charge a membership fee as a PTA? Ours went to a PTO recently and due to low membership we've decided to drop our fee. We don't live in a well to do area and think this will help boost membership.

Make a list of all the events and items the PTA has paid for in the past and what you're planning on supporting in the near future...make sure parents out there know exactly what the PTA pays for so they'd know what's at stake if the PTA doesn't raise the funds it needs.

We've had trouble with our attendance lately and someone from a neighboring town has tried to help us. (we get 5-7 people each meeting, she gets 30+ in her town). She said to have free babysitting, have an open invitation to go out for a drink afterwards, once in a while put the word out that "if __# of people show for the meeting then we'll have a drawing for ___" (ie: tickets, gift card, etc). I'm not saying I agree with all these, but these were the ideas given to us.

If you're having trouble getting volunteers to help w fundraising and you're getting stuck w all the work then start making direct eye contact with people and outright asking if they'd mind doing this or that.

7pm has worked best for our meetings. It use to be 6:30, but that was just too early for moms.

Our best fundraisers have been MCM braided bread/cookies (frozen), Square One Arts, and we're doing a new one this spring....a member of our PTO is a 1st gr teacher and said that at the school she teaches at (not ours) does this one fundraiser for the entire year, the only one, and they raise 30k!! It's a walk-a-thon. They try to get each kid to raise $50 in pledges, either per lap or flat donations, and each grade level walks for one hour, each grade taking turns. I think in her school a younger grade goes out at same time as older grade...one walks inner laps, other outer laps.
Prizes awarded to class w most participation and individual that raises the most ( prizes like iPods). We're very excited to see how this goes. You could try it out for next fall...put out a list of items/events the money raised will pay for for the entire school yea when you send the pledge sheets home. The overhead is minimal...water, prizes. And hopefully it'll lead to a successful day of fundraising!

Good luck.

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answers from Dallas on

As past President of the cheer booster club and overseeing a lot of financial transactions, fundraising, drama mama's........my best advice is just be a good moderator and avoid a train wreck.

The VP's actually do the most work as far as setting up fundraising, membership, etc.

Sometimes change has to happen and you are in charge of that. You'll get a lot of unsolicited advice and you will not please everybody.. just do what is right for the PTA.

I'm currently Secretary of the Sr High cheer boosters which is aligned with the school PTA and very involved. Our main fundraiser (entire school) is the activity program that is sold at the ballgames. They are a loss as far as printing, etc and selling them at $5 each.... it costs at least $10 each to print. BUT... the advertising is where we make money. This year we had over $200,000 in advertising alone.

People don't like to get out and sell stuff we don't need or want... candy, magazines, gift wrap, entertainment books, etc... Do a write a check campaign and silent auction. We had a someone donate Dallas Maverick tickets last year and they went for $500!! Get creative with the auction, advertise it etc.

The cheerleaders also did a cheer clinic where they teach younger girls some of the basics, etc and then at the end of the clinic, they put on a presentation for the parents. We made over $2000 on that one.

Good luck... just remember that you can't please everybody and there will be criticism no matter what you do... just hold your head up and do a good job. And.... Keep a good CYA file with all documentation of what you are doing and why.

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answers from Cumberland on

There should be a notebook that outlines all your duties and responsibilities

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answers from Seattle on

Here's my personal worst & best

- Charging a membership fee (we couldn't afford the fee!)

- Emailing out the meeting minutes / volunteer groups (so parents who couldn't attend the meeting could still sign up)/ etc.

((One of the teachers started this, because our PTA started holding "secret meetings". They couldn't kick the teachers out of the meetings, so the teachers started transcribing the meeting notes to email out, and the teachers didn't CARE if a family had paid or not... EVERYONE got the email. So even poor families like ours -Both my husband and I were in school ourselves- could know what was going on with the school and show up on volunteer days, etc.))

When my mum was PTA president she did mimeos (ha! remember those!) and all volunteer things were advertised a month before they started. So the mimeos of the meeting would get sent home with the kids in their backpacks. PTA participation after the mimeos started going home became astronomical. MOST parents want to help/be involved... but the logistics can be very daunting.

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