It happens almost every year—a new school year kicks off, an eager new PTA leadership team steps in, and you’ve got roughly nine months to make a positive impact on your school community. So, how will your newly formed PTA decide its goals for the year and craft the plans to make them happen? Here are five simple steps to help you get your feet off the ground and moving in the right direction.
Step 1: Survey like crazy
Surveys play a huge role in guiding your year. With all the free survey tools out there (likeTypeform and Survey Monkey), it’s easier than ever to gather input from a wide variety of people. Ask parents and school staff for feedback regarding last year’s events, the PTA’s investments, and their most pressing needs and wants for the year. Keep the survey short and easy to complete (i.e. multiple choice, scale of 1-5) to maximize the number of responses. Also, always leave space for optional comments, and don’t forget to thank them for participating. This will help increase stakeholder buy-in for the eventual choices you make!
Step 2: Become best friends with your budget
Now that you know what people want and need, you’re ready to start planning those purchases. This is where the budget becomes all important. How much do you anticipate collecting through fundraisers, sponsors, and donations? How do you intend to allocate those funds? Which programs are the highest priority this year? Keep your income and expenses current and readily available. Also, tweak your budget and plans as needed to reflect the funds you actually have and not just the funds you hope to have. Additionally, make a “wish list” of extra projects in case you receive an unanticipated gift.
Step 3: Put on your “hassle-free” glasses
Steer clear of events or fundraisers that depend too heavily on staff participation for success. Teachers are busy. Invite them to take part, but be respectful of their commitment to their job. If staff members willingly jump in, find a way to relieve their other responsibilities or express your gratitude for going above and beyond.
Step 4: Play to your team’s strengths
Know who you’re working with and where their strengths lie. What are your parent volunteers excited about? Are they “party planners” who love to decorate for dances? Are they networkers who are great at gathering food donations or sponsors? Or are they “savvy shoppers” who can find school resources for a bargain? Playing to your team’s strengths will increase volunteer participation AND benefit the school.
Step 5: Invest in school culture, too
It’s important to strike a balance between fun events and educational projects. It’s ok to buy the technology for kids and organize the assembly about bullying. But don’t neglect to buy the playground equipment, plan a food truck dinner and dance, or throw a winter snow party in Florida. If you make it fun for the kids, the parents (and staff) will come too. ALL of these investments add significant value and help to build a vibrant and healthy school community.
If you put these five steps into action, your PTA leadership team will hit the ground running with a purpose and a plan. So what are you waiting for? Get planning and make this school year the best year yet!
Cathy Ellis lives in Stuart, Florida with her husband Charlie and their three kids: Alec (21), Anna (16), and Amelia (14). Cathy served Felix A. Williams Elementary School (the school her children attended) for 13 years in various capacities. Currently, she works part time as a “soap maker’s apprentice” and is heading into her third year as the Band Booster President at Jensen Beach High School, where her son played trumpet and her girls are in the Color Guard.
For the past 15 years, Boosterthon has strengthened schools by increasing funds and inspiring students through a remarkable fitness and character-based experience. This year, over a million students and 1,900 schools will participate in a Boosterthon program. With us, schools raise more, stress less, and provide a positive experience for every student.