I Read the Entire 477-page PTA Toolkit For You. You’re Welcome!
So, last year, as I’ve previously posted, I was unwillingly made PTA president. This year a keen and competent mother was all ready to take over and got officially voted in and everything… and then she made the decision to put her daughter in a different school. So I said I would finish my initial two-year term. I don’t want to be president, but nor do I want to bail. No, daggummit! I’ll stick around to do the half-arsed job I know I’m fully capable of.
This week I received our new PTA toolkit, so named because it weighs about the same as one of those actual leaden CraftsmanTM jobbies I think. Really, it is a formidable tome, 471 pages from cover page to index. My postman must hate me. The PTA must hate trees. Truly, they are compassionate about children, but trees? Rather like a swine farmer looks at a pig and sees rashers and roasts and gammon and sausages, the PTA looks at a tree and sees pamphlets and fliers and forms and certificates because my toolkit was accompanied by all of these, and I will receive them all year long- 8×11 inch pieces of tree carcass.
Last year, newly elected as president, I sat down and read the toolkit cover to cover. I just sat down on the floor of my office and made a day of it. It’s intended to be reference material and not a page-turner I know, but criminy, it’s head-hurting. It covers non-profit organizations, taxes, the internet, accounting, insurance, scheduling and (I’m not kidding here) cow bingo. Everything. It covers freaking everything.
Our PTA started the year before I came in as president meaning we are a new ‘unit.’ Receiving the new toolkit was illuminating, though. I believe it has taken me a year to realize that starting a PTA is like starting a small business. And everyone who runs their own business knows it is a full time job and more. Those first two years are make or break. That’s the general consensus, I believe. How on earth, I ask myself plaintively, are we ever to really get this thing off the ground if we are all very, very part-time and depend on volunteerism? It has long been an observation of mine that, unless you are unmitigatedly wealthy, if you are a person who has the time and inclination to volunteer it generally makes you a really good candidate not to.
But our PTA is full of great candidates: all inclination and no time. They are busy being competent and working elsewhere. Nor do we have the problems inherent in many PTAs of cattiness and backstabbing and juicy shenanigans. You really couldn’t wish for a group of more delightful and entertaining parents at my daughter’s school.
Every parent I know, and I have said exactly the same thing, goes “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Just call me.” We parents just want to come and put in our factory hours. So, I had a wishful brainwave. Each new start up unit should be assigned a PTA mentor, a person who sets up the running of the 501c(3) non-profit organization, fitting the needs of the PTA with the needs of the school, and for a year guides and builds and sets up the operating procedures and structure or what is ostensibly a small business, so that it can grow and flourish rather than just put-put along. Then the board and committees can come in and maintain what has been put into operation. There are plenty of schools, of course, where this is entirely unnecessary, but at our school, I assure you, it would be very, very welcome. I don’t think that will happen, so let’s toast to a brand new school year of full-time half-arsedness on my part.
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