With the school year coming to a close, it’s time for current PTA officers and board members to wrap things up and hand them over to the incoming PTA leadership team. For incoming officers and board members, it’s time to what you need to do and what you need to know to be successful in the coming year. Here are ten steps to making this a smooth transition.

  1. Finish the year. Even as the year comes to a close, there are still things to finish up. Elect your new officers. Appoint an audit committee. Pay any outstanding membership dues. Register your incoming officers in MemberHub. It’s tempting, especially if it has been a difficult year for a PTA leader, to want things to just be over. But not taking care of those last little details can set your PTA up for problems in the coming year. You’ve worked too hard this year to grow your PTA to set it back next year.
  2. Thank your volunteers. While your PTA volunteers share their time and talents to make your school better rather than for personal recognition, a little gratitude can go a long way. Publicly recognizing and thanking your volunteers for their service helps keep them coming back and encourages others to step up and start volunteering. Even something simple like punch and cookies at your last PTA meeting or printed certificates make a difference.
  3. Meet with your successor. Chances are, you’ve been doing your PTA job for a year or more, while your successor probably has only a general idea of what they’re going to be expected to do. Provide them with the materials you inherited when you started in your position as well as what you’ve added. Be sure to include a procedure book. Share what worked, what didn’t, and what you’d do differently if you had the job for another year. Promise them you’ll let them do the job their way without you looking over their shoulder, but that you’ll always be available to answer questions, and then keep that promise.
  4. Have the outgoing and incoming boards meet. Your new board, even if there are only a few new faces, will need to build their abilities as a team. Your outgoing board can share their experiences of working as a group, highlight where teamwork is essential, and answer questions.
  5. Introduce your new board. Take the time to introduce your new PTA leaders to key contacts such as teachers, administrators, community partners, and community leaders. Make sure your members know who’s doing what in the coming year as well.
  6. Update all the “stuff.” Make sure your new officers are registered in MemberHub so they’ll get information from Illinois PTA about training, grants, programs, and more. Once your fiscal year is over and the audit is complete, update the signatories on your PTA account. Make sure passwords to social media and other online items are changed as well.
  7. Conduct your PTA audit. One of the most common ways PTAs run into trouble is failing to conduct an annual audit. Remember that signatories to your PTA accounts cannot serve on the audit committee, but your current treasurer should be available to answer questions. If you have a new incoming treasurer (who isn’t currently a signatory), they are a good candidate to serve on the audit committee. Remember, your audit protects outgoing officers from accusations of financial wrongdoing and assures incoming officers that they are taking over a clean set of books.
  8. Get your new board trained. Illinois PTA offers a lot of online training throughout the year, including the basic courses required of officers in your PTA bylaws. Remind your incoming officers to get their training early to help make their job as easy as possible. Getting trained early helps you plan for the coming year without getting surprised by things you didn’t know you needed to do (e.g., a letter from the IRS regarding your missed Form 990 filing).
  9. Encourage your incoming PTA president to have the board meet over the summer. A summer meeting for the new board gives them a chance to plan out the year, discuss new programs or ideas, figure out what the budget needs to be, and determine what fundraising needs to be done to meet that budget. That leads to a quick start at your first PTA meeting, providing a good first impression for all the new people attending their first PTA meeting.
  10. Plan to step back. Whether you are moving off the PTA board, to a new board position, or to a new school, plan on stepping back from the position you are turning over. Let them know you are handing them the keys and letting them drive off without you sitting in the back seat (and, yes, it can be as difficult as letting your teenager do the same with your car). Make sure they know you will still be there as a resource, but that you recognize that they will do some things differently and that you will give them the space and support to do so.

Photo courtesy Andrea Stöckel.