So you’re stepping into the role of Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President for your child’s school.
You’re ready to make a positive impact on the educational community, support your school’s mission, and foster stronger connections between parents, teachers, and students.
While the role of President is rewarding, it’s also one filled with questions, uncertainties, and the need for guidance.
Whether you’re a seasoned PTO veteran or a newcomer to the world of school parent organization leadership, this article answers five frequently asked questions about the PTO President role.
Let’s get started!
I need help getting started this year. I’m the new PTO President and am starting with nothing. Literally nothing’s been passed down to me and the previous President will not answer text or calls.
So sorry you’re dealing with this situation.
Is there another officer/volunteer who’s friends with the past President who can help work out getting the materials from her?
Can you ask the Principal to help?
Also, is anything available digitally?
Does your group have a Google Drive where you could access some past info?
In the absence of all of that, you’ll need to put things together for yourself.
Have you downloaded the President’s Getting Started Checklist?
Not having past information means that you have the opportunity to begin fresh and really make things work for you and your volunteer team.
Look at it this way instead of being burdened with starting from scratch because what wasn’t passed down may not have been as helpful as you’d hoped.
I have zero experience running a PTO. Am I unqualified to be President and run the group? I’m really scared that I’m going to screw this up and it is terrifying.
Good for you for stepping up!
Your willingness to take on the role of President is really the only qualification you need. Seriously.
I know you’re worried about screwing up, but I can already tell you have the skills necessary to be a great leader, so I don’t think that’ll happen!
No volunteer comes into the President role knowing all that they nee to know right on the onset.
And as you have more time in the role, you’ll learn more and more and will become a better leader by getting some knowledge and experience under your belt.
One of the ways to take a shortcut to get an immediate confidence booster along with a ton of knowledge, check out the President’s Success Kit.
It includes a lots of guidance, plus printable binder system that has everything you need to get organized as President.
And the kit provides a place for everything you’ll need to reference, so you’ll stay organized and have what you need at your fingertips.
There’s also a ton of done for you forms that you’ll need to use throughout the year and a guide to what to pay attention to each month.
One of the hardest things about being President is keeping tabs on all the things without it taking over your life.
This kit will make life so much easier!
Should a PTO President share her plans and ideas with the Vice President before any Board or General PTO meeting?
Yes! Collaborating with the other members of your leadership team is a great way to include everyone and generate ideas and support at the same time.
The PTO President should generally discuss everything with the entire Executive Board before talking about anything in a general meeting.
It helps to make everyone feel like they’re on the same team.
I’m leaving my school and I’m not sure what to do to turn over resources like the PTO Success Kit I purchased earlier to someone else.
Does your PTO have a google drive/cloud storage? If not, get one set up.
Transfer any resources there and let the officers who will continue with that PTO know about them.
Be sure to enable the right sharing permissions so that they’ll be able to access them.
You’ll find more end of the year office wrap up info in this blog post and video about reminders for wrapping up the school year.
Can PTO Presidents Vote?
Whether or not PTO Presidents can vote during PTO meetings is a really common question, so I’m glad you’re asking.
Unless specifically prohibited in your bylaws or standing rules, then there’s no reason why Presidents can’t vote.
Each PTO gets to craft their own set of rules that govern the group and all members should follow, as long as the members vote to adopt them.
But should PTO President’s vote?
That’s an entirely different situation.
And the answer is probably not, unless it’s for elections of officers.
And that’s because voting comes down to power and perceptions of power- from the membership, board and the President themselves.
While PTO President’s aren’t the decider of all things, they still have a lot of influence on the entire group and many members will defer to the President’s wishes even without the President voting.
The main role of the President is to be the organizer in chief, facilitator, and main contact point for the PTA/PTO.
But some Presidents misinterpret their role to mean that they have the deciding power of the group.
The Executive Board as a whole and the general membership really has the final say.
President’s cannot block or permit things without the backing of the Executive Board and membership.
They cannot override the wishes of the members and Executive Board.
If your bylaws state the President’s can’t vote, I’ll bet there was an issue in the past with a President who overstepped their bounds and exceeded their power limits.
Or there was a worry that a situation would arise where that would happen, so the limit was added as a precaution.
When it comes to officer elections, those are held by secret ballot most time, so the possibility of influence by the President is less of an issue.
That and choosing the best leadership for the group is distinctly different from deciding another routine issue that comes up during non-election PTO meetings.
Over to you!
And there we have five little lessons that all PTO Presidents should learn.
Remember that your role as a PTO President is not just about solving problems but also about inspiring positive change.
It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and motivated to contribute their best.
It’s about building bridges, forging partnerships, and working together to enhance the educational experience for every child in your school.
And all of that is a lot to learn, so asking questions to learn the right answer is a good way to get up to lead your group.