It’s hard to believe it’s already July, and summer is on its downhill trajectory to the start of the upcoming school year and Fall semester. Before trying to squeeze in a summer vacation in the final weeks prior to the start of school, it’s a good idea to get your parent-teacher group ready for the start of school. Getting organized now, while PTA, PTO, and Booster Club activities are slower, is a great way to ensure your group is prepared to hit the ground running on the first day of school. Here are some things you can check off your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club to-do list before the start of school.
Get Your PTA, PTO, Booster Club Organized
Having your group organized is a great way to ensure it runs smoothly once the action picks up and activity starts to thrum. Start by checking back on notes, meeting minutes, and other documentation from the past school year. Reviewing the prior year can give you a good idea of any lingering internal issues that need to be addressed and resolved before the start of the school year. Resolving internal issues will ensure your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club will have a solid foundation to work from for the upcoming school year.
Part of being organized and prepared for the upcoming school year is ensuring your parent-teacher group is all on the same page. Scheduling one or more board bonding events is an excellent way for your group’s leadership to come together to have some fun and bond as a group. This bonding can be significant if you have newly elected officers who haven’t had the chance to get familiar with their co-leaders over the summer. It’s also a good opportunity for you to help your junior officers get up to speed on their responsibilities and provide them insight without waiting for them to ask later.
While you are all together, you can look at your group’s internal structure to prepare for the Fall semester and make sure everyone understands and agrees on your group’s focus. Informal leadership meetings like these are also an excellent time to discuss your Directors & Officers coverage, so your leadership has the peace of mind to continue acting in the best interest of your group and students without trepidation of legal reprisal.
PTA, PTO, and Booster Club Review To-Dos
Several items should be on your parent-teacher group’s review checklist before the start of a new school year. The first is your group’s budget. Now is a great time to review the proposed budget for the upcoming school year against budgets and expenses from prior years. This review can help you notice and address any routine, unexpected expenses that seem to crop up each year. As long as you are looking at financial documentation, consider reviewing your group’s important tax documents. Review your group’s EIN and make sure your 501(c) tax-exempt documentation is all in order before it’s tax time.
Another important thing to review is your parent-teacher group’s mission statement. You can usually find this documented in your group’s bylaws. Each school year is different, and your mission statement may need to amending to bring it in line with the current goals of your group. And, while you have the document, you should make it a habit of reviewing your bylaws at least once a year and discuss proposed amendments. After review, if you find yourself needing to change your bylaws, see our helpful article on how to revise and make amendments to your bylaws.
Documents aren’t the only thing to review during the summer. It’s a bright idea to take an inventory of your group’s physical property. Routine inspection, cleaning, and maintenance of your group’s equipment ensure it will be ready to go for the upcoming school year fundraising activities. Check the inventory of your fundraising supplies and any club/sports gear owned by your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club. Also, consider the storage solution for your parent-teacher group’s property. Temperature, humidity, water damage, vandalism, theft, and fire can affect your group’s property at any time. If you are not already insuring your group’s equipment and fundraising supplies, consider property coverage from AIM.
Summer is the perfect time to review all your insurance needs for the upcoming school year. AIM offers four primary types of insurance coverage for PTA, PTO, and Booster Club groups. AIM’s rates are very cost-effective, with annual event coverage starting at $65/year for parent-teacher groups.
- Director & Officer Liability: Protects your group members against lawsuits on the grounds of discrimination, misinformation, etc.
- Embezzlement Coverage: Insures your group’s funds in the case of embezzlement or theft.
- General Liability(Event): Protects your group against legal action if someone is injured during one of your events.
- Inland Marine(Property): Insures your group’s property against damage, destruction, and theft.
Develop a PTA, PTO, Booster Club Communications Plan
Coordinating members and volunteers in your group can be difficult. Developing a proper communications plan for your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club goes a long way to ensuring your members and volunteers stay informed on time with accurate information. The first question you should answer in your communications plan is, “Where do you keep your information for dissemination?” Having a single place, digital or tangible, where you keep a record of all the information you’ve sent out or plan to send out makes it easy to know what has and has not been shared with your parent-teacher group’s membership.
The second thing to consider is who you reach out to and how do you contact them? Do your member records include each parent’s up-to-date email or phone number? How do you plan to reach out to your group? A common misstep is only sharing crucial group information during in-person meetings. This practice can leave parents unable to make the group meeting out of the loop regarding information updates. Some groups have success using direct communication through emails, text, and phone calls.
Others groups find more success with a parent-teacher group website or using their social media account as an easy way for members to find updated information. AIM has some helpful tips to Boost Your Parent-teacher Group’s Social Media Presence.
The last, and arguably most important, concern for your communications plan is determining who is in charge of member communications. Having someone responsible for communicating vital PTA, PTO, or Booster Club information to your group’s constituency is the best way to ensure your communication is done right.
Building Your Membership Base
No discussion of the upcoming school year would be complete without mention of building your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club’s membership. While you should not use membership levels as a measure of success, having an active member base allows your parent-teacher group to provide more service to your school and put every penny of your funds to their best use for your students.
Summer is an opportune time to conduct a member survey for your group. A survey can help you learn what your members think is important and what can be improved. Addressing these concerns and making changes to your group before the start of the school year is ideal. You should also take notes from the survey and revisit your mission statement and bylaws to see if there’s cause for updating them based on your survey results.
One of the best ways to boost your parent-teacher group’s membership is ensuring it is a welcoming place for all types of parents. PTA, PTO, and Booster Club groups have a tendency towards homogeny in their membership. This summer, look at the steps you can take to make your parent-teacher group a more welcoming place and encourage more involvement from the full, diverse strata of your school’s parents and guardians. AIM has some tips to help you specifically recruit and improve engagement among male parents. And, we offer some basic ideas on how your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club can help improve its diversity, inclusivity, and equity. Tips for improving your PTA, PTO, and Booster Club’s diversity.
Schedule Out a Rough Plan for the Upcoming School Year
Though the most obvious of summertime activities for your parent-teacher group, it bears repeating, summer is the best time for creating a rough, proposed plan for your group’s school year activities. Spend time thinking about when, where, and how often you plan to hold your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club meetings. Spend extra time considering the first meeting of the year. Your first parent-teacher group meeting of a new school year is often the biggest and most important meeting of the year. It’s the best chance to turn new parents into regular members and set the tone for the school year. To help you along, we have How to Plan Successful PTA, PTO, and Booster Club Meetings.
Now is an excellent time to schedule preliminary dates for your parent-teacher group’s Fall events and fundraisers. Review previous calendars for dates and run the proposed dates by your school administrators to ensure it makes sense with the school’s calendar for the upcoming school year. It’s also helpful to check the calendar for any religious or cultural holidays or observances that may conflict with your proposed event and fundraiser dates.
Another good process to start early for the new school year is the process of picking committee chairs and assigning duties for your Fall events and fundraisers. Starting this process early can help your group start producing your events and fundraisers immediately after chairs and assignments are given.
Start the Upcoming School Year Right
One of the best ways for your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club to start the school year off right is by making the rounds with the administration and the faculty. Take the opportunity to make a formal introduction for your new officers to administrators and share your parent-teacher group’s plans for the coming school year. You can sweeten the deal and help build your relationship with the school by providing a small token of appreciation in advance of the coming year. Some snacks and treats, coffee for the teacher’s lounge, or a catered lunch for one of the staff development days before the semester starts are all good ideas.
School Parents Night/Open House
You will also want to prepare for your school’s Parents Night/Open House. This school event is one of your best opportunities to reach parents and try and convert them into PTA, PTO, or Booster Club members. One way to help drum up conversations with prospective members is using your member survey as questions to discuss with school parents. You can use it to speak with parents to get ideas, gain support for your group, and convert parents into members and volunteers. The survey can be a great way to put your PTA, PTO, or Booster’s Club’s best foot forward early with a new parent. And, make sure you collect their contact information while you’re chatting. Your school’s parents night or open house is also a good time to coordinate your first parent-teacher group meeting of the year. Your prospective members are already assembled at the school, so they’re more likely to attend your biggest and best meeting of the year.
Another thing to consider at the start of the semester is your volunteer onboarding. If your first meeting of the year was successful, you might have a big influx of potential volunteers for your events. Think about creating an onboarding checklist for your new member volunteers. This resource should help volunteers determine who is in charge of what in your parent-teacher group and where to find essential items and supplies for your fundraisers and events. An onboarding resource can help you smooth out minor volunteer hiccups like who can unlock the storage closet and what a volunteer should do with purchase receipts.
If you’re looking for a way your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club can make an outstanding contribution right at the start of the year, you can promote a school supplies drive/drop off. A school supplies drive can be for the standard school supplies, and equipment students may need for sports and other clubs.
Keep Building on Your PTA, PTO, and Booster Club Success All Year
A solid start to the upcoming school year is critical, but it’s also important to continue your PTA, PTO, and Booster Club’s success throughout the year. To help you be the best parent-teacher group possible, AIM provides plenty of helpful, informative resources, information, and blogs. Following the AIM Facebook Page is the best way to keep your parent-teacher group informed and get notified when AIM posts new information and resources to help your group.
A key factor to long-term success is preparing against the worst. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and our insurance coverage helps protect your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club against legal action so you can continue to do good for your school and your students. AIM protects good people doing good things, and we’re the largest provider of insurance coverage for parent-teacher groups just like yours. You can get a quote and buy your coverage today.