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How to Run PTO Officer Elections: The Definitive Guide

The task of getting new PTO leaders on board to serve as officers for your PTA/PTO is one of the most important jobs to take care of each year.

Many leaders worry about handling PTO officer elections the right way.

They’re concerned about not missing an important step or overlooking an essential part of the process.

If that’s you, then this post is what you’ve been looking for!

This post will run through all the ins and outs of running PTO Officer Elections.

Follow this process for the smoothest PTO Elections Season yet!

Form a Nominating Committee

First, the current PTO President should not be involved in lining up leaders for the upcoming year.

That job falls squarely to the Nominating Committee.

Given that the unofficial responsibility of many Membership Chairs is being the right hand (wo)man of the President, it’s no surprise that she should also head up the Nominating Committee.

And if you’re a PTA, it’s likely that the Vice President of Membership is also the Nominating Committee.

Double check your Bylaws or Standing Rules to be sure.

In January, the Nominating Committee Chair should ask for volunteers to act as committee members.

Your Bylaws and Standing Rules may spell out the the nominating and elections process.

If not, look for 3-5 members to serve on the Nominating Committee.

Committee members should be well connected to other parents in the school.

This makes their job easier, especially when it comes time to make the ask.

More on making the ask later!

Nominating Committee members should also understand how the PTO works.

And also what the elected positions involve so they an help choose the best candidates possible.

It’s ok to have newer members of your PTO involved with the Nominating Committee!

They’ll bring a different perspective that enriches the process.

Just make sure to have a good balance of newer as well as experienced members in the group.

Making the Slate of PTO Officers

Once formed, Nominating Committee members should work to fill the slate of PTO officers.

The slate is a list the Nominating Committee works to put together.

The list is based on what the group feels is the best interests of the PTO.

Even though it’s called a slate doesn’t mean the list pre-determines the outcome of the officer elections.

It’s the result of the Nominating Committee’s work to balance the talent pool and needs of the PTO.

Moreover, unless your Bylaws and Standing Rules state otherwise, slate only one person per position.

And never slate a person for more than one position.

And that’s because the slate is really the Nominating Committee’s recommendation of the very best leaders for the elected positions!

The Nominating Committee should focus on finding a nominee for every elected position.

Non-officer and committee chair appointments should be left to the discretion of incoming President.

Unless this is otherwise specified in the Bylaws and Standing Rules, of course!

Considerations to Make for a Slate of PTO Officers

How should the Nominating Committee go about slating PTO officers?

Slate volunteers not only because of their willingness to serve, but also their talent and availability to execute their position.

It’s entirely possible that a volunteer may want to do a particular job.

But in reality, they lack the needed skills to be as successful as the PTO needs.

Making the call is difficult because many times these volunteer are friends.

But the nominating process is the time to put the best interest of the PTO ahead of personal relationships.

Current PTO Officers and Committee Chairs

With that, here’s how to go through the process of slating volunteers as officers:

First look at the current officers and committee chairs.

Who is eligible to serve again?

Check to see that volunteers aren’t term limited by your PTO’s Bylaws or Standing Rules.

Who is interested in serving again?

It’s common courtesy to ask current PTO officers if they’re interested in remaining in that same position.

But only if they were successful in their last position!

It also makes a lot of sense to ask current officers what other positions they’d be interested in having.

Some will wish to stay on the board.

And some will want to cycle off and take on a smaller role, such as a committee chair.

Or perhaps current leaders won’t want an official role at all!

Identify New Leaders

Also don’t forget to look for new leaders to serve as PTO officers.

Think back through your PTO events and programs year to date.

Which volunteers have shown a real interest or passion for the PTO?

Who is always there, ready to help?

Those sorts of parents and volunteers should rise to the list of possibilities.

Also consider which volunteers will be available next year.

Which volunteers with kids in lower schools have kids moving up?

This tactic is most useful for non-elementary school based PTOs.

Read about even more PTO leader recruitment tips.

Mistakes to avoid about recruiting leaders are important too, so don’t skip them!

Balancing the PTO Executive Board

The best PTO Executive Boards are those that are diverse.

Think of diversity on all levels: race, socioeconomic level, gender, etc., as well different levels of leadership experience.

There’s a certain amount of on the job training that can happen with all PTO/PTA groups.

But save critical positions like President and Treasurer for the most experienced volunteers in your group.

Volunteers with less experience absolutely have a place on the executive board.

Newer volunteers can prove invaluable in smaller roles from which they can boost their skills and confidence levels.

Well-organized PTOs have leaders who are generalists who can move from role to role kind of fluidly.  

This isn’t always possible, but PTOs work best when this happens.

Get into the habit of asking volunteers to move around in positions.

It’s a good habit, even if your Bylaws and Standing Rules don’t specify how long volunteers can fill one role.

This way not just one person will know how to do a certain job!

Making the Ask

Fill the draft slate, then confirm with the nominees that they acceptance the nomination.

Only volunteers who have confirmed their interest and willingness to serve should be added to the slate.

And then once the volunteer has accepted the nomination, officially add their name to the slate!

With the slate complete, present it to the general membership at the next PTO meeting agenda, no later than the March meeting.

This wraps up the duties of the Nominating Committee for the year!

The Nominating Committee Chair still has a few things thing left to do, though.

Presenting the Slate

During the March meeting, the Nominating Committee Chair should present the slate.

The presentation is nothing fancy, merely reading the position name and name of the nominated leader.

After reading the names, the Nominating Committee Chair should make a motion to have the slate of officers approved.

Once approved, move onto the next step of holding elections the following month.

Holding PTO Officer Elections

The next step in the process is to hold PTO Officer Elections in April!

Here’s how to conduct the election vote if not specified in your Bylaws or Standing Rules:

PTO President or PTO Secretary adds the vote for the election of officers to the agenda.

During the meeting, when it comes to the time to vote, the Secretary should ensure quorum is present.

If quorum isn’t specified in your PTO Bylaws and Standing Rules, use a simply majority of those present as a passing mark.

The PTO Secretary reads the the slate of officers once more and then asks for nominations from the floor.

Being nominated from the floor simply means that the person wasn’t slated for the position.

Ask anyone nominated from the floor if they accept the nomination before adding their name to the ballot.

Never nominate a volunteer who isn’t attending the meeting unless she has previously indicated to you she’d like the position.

Hold a voice vote to affirm the slate of nominees if there are no additional candidates.

Conduct a paper ballot for offices with more than one nominee.

Members in good standing to vote can write the name of their nominee of choice on a piece of paper.

No need to make formal ballots!

The Secretary and one other volunteer, usually the Nominating Committee Chair, should count the votes, and then announce the results.

Want to hold a virtual election?

Over to you!

Now you have the definitive guide to how to run PTO Elections!

What will you incorporate to strengthen your nominating and elections process?

Watch this!

How to Run PTO Officer Elections: The Definitive Guide for PTO PTA Leaders and Secretary Officers
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