by California State PTA Leadership Services Commission
Your local PTA elections are over, your new board is ready to take up their roles, but wait… Despite your best efforts, and those of your nominating committee, you still have some board positions left unfilled. Your association will run better and you’ll have more potential leaders joining your ranks if you can change that.
There are two proven approaches for doing so, broadening your pool of volunteers and removing obstacles that might be standing in the way of people’s willingness to help.
Ways to Broaden Your Pool of Potential Volunteers
- Review meeting attendance and membership lists
Is there an individual who attends all of your meetings? They may be waiting to be invited to serve. Does someone volunteer for a small job consistently? Is there an individual who often comments on your meetings’ business? These engaged members exhibit basic leader skills already: attendance, reliability, engagement.
- Let people know your needs
Put out the word on social media or use flyers or your school newsletter. A specific message from the principal will show support for PTA. (Be careful to not imply the individual expressing an interest in a position will for sure get the position.)
- Speak with the principal and school staff
Often a principal, supportive teachers and staff will know parents who are active on campus but who might not be a part of PTA. An introduction from them can go a long way in building relationships with individuals that are not currently a part of the PTA.
- Use an interest form
An interest form not only gives people an opportunity to express interest in a position for themselves, it also lets members suggest others they believe might be right for a position.
Ways to Remove Obstacles that Might be Discouraging Participation
- Identify obstacles to leadership
Examine what discourages people from stepping into leader roles. Are the dates and times of the meetings difficult for your potential leaders? Are the duties clear and understood? Is there misinformation about the positions? Can the duties of positions be divided through the appointment of a chair or assistant? Are there restrictions in your bylaws that prevent people from serving in leadership roles?
- Scale back commitments
Do the number of events and programs your PTA hosts each year discourage potential leaders? Scale back the number of hosted activities to those that are most valued by your school community and that are achievable.
- Be honest about the role
Explain the duties and expectations of the vacant positions. Remind prospects the executive board is a team which supports one another. Don’t forget to remind them of the PTA resources online and experienced leaders at the council, district and state levels.
- Look for patterns
If your PTA struggles to find leaders year after year then ask for help and attend Council and District trainings. Attend PTA trainings as a team and invite individuals with potential to join you at the trainings. Council and district leaders can support you as you develop a pipeline for leaders, and if needed, will coordinate help from state PTA leaders.
Follow PTA Procedures for Completing the Team
The bylaws indicate which officer positions are filled by the president’s appointment, typically the parliamentarian or corresponding secretary. When the required quorum for your executive board meeting can be met, elected officer vacancies are filled by an election at the executive board meeting. The election results are then shared with the association. If the executive board meeting quorum cannot be met, elected officer vacancies are filled by an election at the association meeting. The president’s appointment of committee chair positions (which are not elected) are approved by the executive board and announced at association meetings.
As the PTA term gets underway, the president and the executive board can effectively work as a team to identify leaders and distribute the workload equitably. This teamwork has the potential to exponentially increase the achievements of the PTA in the coming year and future years.