It is coming close to that time of year again, all the school PTAs are looking for new board members. Before you say yes or no you need to read this!!
I was a PTA President for 2 years. I agreed to do it because it looked like no one else was going to step up, and I couldn’t bear the thought of our school not having all the wonderful events the PTA supports. We are talking book fair, spelling bee, science fair, talent show, bingo, and many others that our PTA supports. I am a firm believer that these events bring the families and schools together and that interaction can ultimately have a huge impact on our kids’ success and enjoyment of school.
Now before I go into the pros and cons, let me tell you that I did have a full board most of the time, so I was not doing it alone. I actually had a board of fabulous ladies that I am grateful for, as we will all be great friends for a long time to come. I also need to tell you that I am a type A planner and I put my full everything into the position. With that being said here are my list of pros and cons to accepting the president position on the PTA, but I think it would easily apply to any PTA board position.
You will make great friends, possibly lifelong friends. When you accept a position on the PTA board, you are generally going to be surrounded by like-minded people. Our PTA was not a “click” or exclusionary so I really enjoyed the wonderful people who were constantly involved.
You will have inside information on the runnings and dealings of the school. Especially as the president, because you will probably be meeting at least once a month with your school principal who will update you with the “state of the school”. If you are a person who wants to know what's going on, a PTA board position is probably for you.
You get to make decisions on the direction of the PTA for those two years you are a board member. For instance, our school did not have a science fair or really fund any STEM activities. As these were important to me, the board and I began funding and implementing these initiatives.
Along those same lines, if there are activities that are not popular or don’t have the volunteers to sustain them, you can make the decision to cancel them. Of course, you will want to wield this power wisely, and really listen to all your PTA members when making these decisions.
A board position is a great resume builder, especially if you have taken time from work to stay home with the kids and need to fill in that time gap. These positions require communication, planning, budgeting, public speaking, and the ability to work with a diverse group of people. These are all great skills that employers are looking for.
Plan to put in a bunch of time to make this position a successful one. To really do this volunteer job right, you will want to plan for 10 to 20 hours a week. This time will be spent in meetings, planning, and email. This leads to the next con …
You are going to give up hours with your family and your kids will probably complain about having to go to all the events early to help set-up and staying late to help clean up. This can be especially cumbersome if you have littles that aren’t even in school yet. Make sure you take this into account when deciding.
You are now the target of anyone or multiple person’s grievances. Some people do have legitimate concerns and you will be able to address those. But there are other people, and there is always at least one, who will just want to complain and you are the person that they will complain too. You will need to know how to respond appropriately and with patience to these complaints. This is the part that can drive you batty and if you are a person who doesn’t have the patience for this, a board position on the PTA is probably not for you. The next con ties right along with this one ...
If you are a person who does not have the ability to say NO to someone, this position is not for you. You will be asked countless times to just add this event to the school or that event or all of them, and if you can not say NO you will quickly become overwhelmed. I learned very fast to say the following to anyone recommending an additional event “Sure that would be a great event to host, let me know when you would like to do it and the logistics of the event”. This stops people in their tracks. Once they realize that they are going to have to be the coordinator and actually volunteer, they, 9 times out of 10, back down from their requests and demands. They want you to do it and not have any involvement, and sadly this is the nature of the PTA culture.
Be prepared to hand it all over and give up control once the position is done. If this is hard, you are not cut out for a board position. Once your 2 years is up, you are out, unless you just move to another board position (and commit another 2 years). You then become a regular card-carrying PTA member. You have to release everything and let someone else take control and run with their own ideas and work ethic. This can be hard for some people, but just think you get your time back!
These are my own pros and cons, but I think they are spot on. I will say that I did enjoy my time spent dedicated to my children’s’ school. On the flip side, I would not do it again!! The first reasons are that I put everything into the PTA to the detriment of my waistline and family time. I let it be the most important, gotta do first on the list, and sacrificed taking care of myself. Not a good thing. The second reason is I have done my time!!!! I am still involved with planning the events that are close to my heart, but the overall planning can be left to someone else. The new parents need to step up anyway.
The one thing that I wouldn’t change is the friendships that I made. As I said before, I have met some of the nicest and most inspiring women that have become part of my village. Even though we are done on the board, they are still encouraging and will always remain my friends.
I hope this helps you make your decision. Even if you don’t decide to take a board position, I encourage you to be involved in chairing events, or just volunteering at events. Every hand that helps makes a difference, especially in the lives of a child.
If you have any questions about PTAs leave me a comment below!
Free Beginner DSLR Photography Course
Signup to get a free 5-day beginner DSLR photography course. You are only 5 days away from better photos.
Day 1: Basics of DSLR Photography
Day 2: How to take portraits
Day3: How to take sports photos
Day 4: How to take candids of your kids
Day 5: Course wrap up