Handing Transition and Change

At this time of year, many PACs are looking at electing new executive members. Some executive members are looking at stepping down, or moving on, some people are looking at moving into new positions, and sometimes this can create stress.

Here are some very useful articles in dealing with this (they come from a US website, where PACs are called PTOs):


“Parent groups often develop a communication gap between new volunteers and the veterans who have seen it all. But what if we could bridge that gap and say what we’re really thinking? After all, true unity starts with a little understanding.”

Dear Grizzled PTO Veteran,
I’m writing to you because deep down, I know you have a lot to teach me, an enthusiastic new volunteer. I know that you’ve put in years of volunteer time and that you’ve seen many different ideas tried (some without success) and that you have the best interests of the school at heart. But sometimes it seems that the PTO is all about you and your other experienced friends.”

“Dear Enthusiastic PTO Newbie,
I’m writing to you because deep down, I know that our group needs new blood and new ideas and that you and your fellow younger parents can help me, a grizzled PTO veteran. I know growing parent involvement in our school is essential. But sometimes it seems like you think everything we’ve been doing for so many years has been colossally dumb or that we’ve been wasting our time.”



“There are different reasons you would leave the executive board, and the circumstances can influence your future impact on the group, for better or worse. If you really love your position but term limits require you to pass the baton, then you might become the officer who Can’t Let Go. Sometimes, a contentious election puts you on the outside. If you are leaving the board with bitterness, you might become the Thorn in the Side. Perhaps your child is moving from elementary to middle school or your family is relocating out of the district. Maybe you’re just looking for a change. Or maybe you’re on the verge of volunteer burnout. You might be the officer who Fled the Scene.

None of these characterizations is particularly flattering or advantageous to the mission of the PTO. So what is the ideal situation for an ex-officer or the former chair of a major committee? With some advance planning and restraint, you can be the Resource On Call who has positive influence on the organization even after your name is off the door.”



“No one likes to be confronted with criticism, but unfortunately it’s inevitable when you take on a leadership role. No matter how good you are, there will be people who disagree with how you handle a situation or make a decision. An important and often underappreciated element of being a good leader is dealing with criticism of your group or of you personally in a professional and appropriate way.”



“As your term draws to a close and new officers are being elected, how will you as a current parent group leader make sure that the new officers are ready? Why is a smooth leadership transition important? How do you prepare new officers for the transition into their new roles?

Transition means more than simply replacing one able body with another. It also means the transfer of the organization’s mission and vision from leader to leader, and the assurance that the tools necessary for carrying out that mission and vision are transferred as well.”



“Whether you won by a landslide or one vote—with three recounts and a dispute over hanging chads—you face many challenges ahead. Getting off to a strong start can make all the difference. Here are some ways to do just that.”


“Although most PTOs install a new officer each and every year and many make the transition smoothly, the process is often fraught with struggles. Weary leaders find themselves spending more time sorting out power clashes and personality conflicts than planning fundraisers and family events. Veteran PTO presidents have learned, however, that there are steps PTOs can take to minimize the turmoil that sometimes accompanies the annual changing of the guard. Although every PTO president probably believes at some point that her struggle is unique, there are similar patterns of problems—and common types of solutions—that surface in PTOs from coast to coast.”



“There’s a lot to do to prepare for the new school year. Where do you start? How can you build on the great work the previous leaders did without feeling pressured to follow in their footsteps? Follow these proven tips and advice from seasoned PTO board members to help you get ready for what’s ahead.”


Amending Bylaws for PACs

Further to the post on The Importance of Bylaws for PACs, there are some specific ways to change your bylaws.

Your bylaws should specify the requirements for their amendment. According to Robert’s Rules, you should at least require a two-thirds vote and previous notice to make any change at all in your bylaws.

Making small revisions to the bylaws is just done as amending a motion:

  • Example: In the sentence “The business of the PAC shall be unbiased towards race, religion, gender, or politics “, add the words “sexual orientation” after “gender”.
  • Example: In the  sentence “No person may hold the same executive position for more than two consecutive years.”, strike the word “two” and add the word “three”.

If you are making amendments in this manner, your amendments made in the meeting can’t exceed the scope of the notice. You can’t send notice of a change to change “All money spent up to $300.00 may be voted on by the PAC executive” to $500, and then at the meeting change it to $1000. You would able to amend only up to the $500 amount, as that is what the notice was given for.

However, you may choose to make larger revisions to your bylaws, a more extensive rewrite. By considering a revision of your bylaws, you’re proposing to amend the bylwas by substituting a new set of bylaws for the existing ones. The rules regarding scope of notice would not apply. Your PAC is free to amend anything in the proposed revision before it’s adopted, as if the bylaws were being considered and adopted for the first time.

New Superintendent of Schools

Board Chair Tony Cable is pleased to announced that the Board of Education has appointed Marilyn Marquis-Forster as Superintendent of Schools. Ms. Marquis-Forster will begin her position early in the 2016-2017 school year.

Ms. Marquis-Forster has experience as a Superintendent in the Swan Valley School Division in northwest Manitoba, and previous teaching and administrative experience in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board in Ontario.

We wish Ms. Marquis-Forster all the best in her new position.

Importance of Bylaws for PACs

There was a recent question from a PAC about the importance of bylaws – are bylaws actually important? Don’t they just add trouble, and rules, and weird things to a meeting?

Bylaws are useful, and bylaws are essential.

The school act requires your PAC to have bylaws. The school district policy on PACs requires your PAC to have bylaws, and further holds your principal responsible for ensuring that the PAC has bylaws (in addition to making decisions consistent to other district policies, processes, and established procedures). These bylaws need to be available to your members.

Bylaws are the fundamental rules that define your organization – basically a contract between the members, defining their rights and duties. Bylaws set up your purpose, who can vote, who can go to meetings, who can run for a position, what positions you have, who can’t vote or hold office, how long someone can hold office, and who can make decisions between meetings. Bylaws are meant to be changeable, and should be reviewed every several years.

Each PAC can decide for themselves what rules they want, as long as it is in keeping with the school act (all parents/guardians are members of the PAC). Some PACs have restrictions on parents who are also school district employees, for example – this may or may not work for your own PAC, but is under your control.

It is the members who make the decisions – the people who can vote, who show up and vote. The chair and other executive members are not the people who make the final decisions on things like bylaws (unless your bylaws specify that, which wouldn’t be recommended). Your chair is at the meeting to facilitate the work of the members and ensure that the meeting is run well; your chair is not at the meeting to be in charge of everything.

If you do not have bylaws, or if you cannot find your bylaws, or really don’t like your bylaws, then you need to adopt new bylaws. If the problem is that you can’t find your bylaws, this makes it trickier to amend them. However, many PAC bylaws seem to have a 14 day notice period, and a 2/3rds or 75% majority vote required in order to make amendments. Someone could put up a notice that they plan to make a motion to replace the bylaws with a sample version of bylaws at the next meeting, and then this version could then be amended to fit your particular PAC’s situation at that meeting. After you have bylaws in place, you can then take more time to sit down and carefully amend them.

DPAC has some sample bylaws here, with some notes about what options may or may not work for your PAC: Generic PAC Bylaws 2016

DPAC also has a copy of a presentation from our last conference on Making Your Life Easier with Bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order here: http://sd57dpac.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-October-24-Bylaws-and-Rules-of-Order.pdf

Please let us know if DPAC can be of any assistance to your PAC.

School Board – Special Meeting May 17th, 2016

The school board is having a special meeting on Tuesday, May 17th, for two agenda items:

  • first and second reading of the annual budget for 2016-17
  • Aboriginal education enhancement agreement


As always, board meetings will be streamed live for your viewing pleasure. If you use Windows 10, make sure to use a browser other than Edge (such as Chrome, or Firefox) to view the school district website, as it previously didn’t work using the Edge browser.

New Executive – elected at May 9th meeting

At the May 9th meeting, the annual general meeting election was held. The DPAC bylaws have term limits, which limit people from serving in any one position for more than 4 consecutive terms, and on the executive itself for more than 8 consecutive terms.

The new executive is:

Role Name
Chairperson Gillian Burnett
Vice Chairperson Mike Gagel
Treasurer Sarah Holland
Secretary Darlene Campbell
Director Candice Bate
Director Sarah Foot
Director (election to be finalized June 6, 2016)

There was a question about the eligibility of two candidates, so an election for the final director position will be held in June, once candidate eligibility has been verified.


May 9th DPAC General Meeting

People may attend the meeting remotely through a weblink (not as good as attending in person, but we understand this can be difficult):


This webconference is set up through LearnNowBC’s Blackboard Collaborate service. A participant guide for this service can be found here:



Agenda – DPAC General Meeting
Monday, May 9th, 2016, 7:00 p.m., Van Bien Training Centre
1. Call to order, Secretary
2. Adoption of agenda and Adoption of Minutes
3. PAC Networking and discussion (To increase the effectiveness of this section of the agenda, we suggest that people report on ideas that may be of interest to other PACs, or concerns that other PACs could help with.)

7:30pm – Partner groups enter
4. Partner Group Presentations (five minutes each – questions may be taken about general topics, detailed and specific questions are best kept to the break)
a) DSAC Presentation (Josh Nycholat )
b) CUPE Report (Karen Wong)
c) Prince George District Teachers Association Report (Richard Giroday)
d) Prince George Principal and Vice Principals Association Report (Dan Watt)
e) Superintendent Report ( Sharon Cairns )
f) Trustee Report (Brenda Hooker)
(5 – 10 minute snack break, opportunity for further partner group discussions)

5. Officer and Committee Reports
a) Executive Board Report (Sarah Holland)
b) Treasurer’s Report (Gillian Burnett)
c) BCCPAC Report

6. PAC and Parent Assistance
a) Grant requests
b) Conference committee and discussion of event planning

7. Advising School District
a) School District Budget to be presented at school board meeting scheduled for May 17th
b) Report – Superintendent Job Interview Panel, May 5th
c) Education Services Committee Report (Steve Shannon)
d) Education Programs and Planning Committee Report ( Mike Gagel)
e) Policy and Governance (Sarah Holland)
f) Suggestions for School Board Report

8. Elections – Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, District Associate, Directors

9. Other Business
10. Agenda items for next meeting
11. Adjournment – Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 6, at 7:00 pm, Van Bien.

SD57 Strategic Plan

At the school board’s April 26th meeting, the board voted to receive their new strategic plan, and distributed copies at that time.

For those people not in attendance at that meeting, here is a scanned copy:

sd57 strategic plan april 26 2016

For background, here’s a news article from when it was first decided on, in 2013: https://www.250news.com/2013/11/06/sd-57-to-spend-100-grand-on-strategic-plan/

We would be interested in feedback as to what parents think of this plan.

Report from BCCPAC AGM

Please note that these are not the official final results, but are taken from hand-written notes at the conferences.

Elections – as this was an even year, the positions that were open were President,  2nd Vice President, Secretary, and two director positions.

  • President – John Bird
  • 2nd Vice President – Jen Mezei
  • Secretary – Kendra Mann
  • Directors – Karen Nordquist and Tracy Wright


The complete text of resolutions as presented can be found here: http://bccpac.bc.ca/news-blog/2016-bccpac-resolutions

Special Resolutions:

  • 2015.4 and 2015.5 – passed, no amendments
  • 2015.7 – passed,amended to remove the point d) has any health issue as certified by a physician that significantly impacts the ability to perform their duties over an extended period of time
  • 2015.8 – passed
  • 2016.1 – Amendment of Bylaws: Adding the Definition of an Official Delegate to the BCCPAC Bylaws – amended to state “…duly authorized by a Regular Member in any School District…”, and carried

Regular Resolutions:

  • 2015.16 – Implementation of the Parent Portal – carried
  • 2016.2 – Capacity Adjustments – amended to state “…adjust the capacity requirements and utilization calculations”, and carried
  • 2016.3 – BCCPAC Materials – amended to add “…a Parents Guide to Individual Education Plans accessible via the BCCPAC website in digital form to the public… printed copies of these resources would be accessible for a fee.”, and carried
  • 2016.4 Radon Testing – carried, no amendments
  • 2016.5 Volunteer Parent Advocate Training – some amendments, believe it was carried
  • 2016.6 Dust Collection and Remediation in School Wood Shops – carried, no amendments
  • 2016.7 Resources for Teachers – amended to say “adequate and additional operating funding”, carried
  • 2016.8 Capital Funding for New Schools – amended to say “sufficient and additional capital funding”, carried
  • 2016.9 Amended name to Downloaded Cost Presures, from Economic Stability Mandate, amended text to say “BCCPAC advocate that the downloaded cost increases, such as negotiated wage settlements, energy rate increases, and medical services premium increases, be fully funded…”
  • 2016.10 Proper Funding for Quality  Public Education reaffirmed
  • 2016.11 Ministry Funding Formula reaffirmed
  • 2016.12 Cooperation between Ministries for Student Success – amended to change “learning disabilities” to “academic, physical, behavioural, social and/or emotional challenges”, carried
  • 2016.13 Funding for Successful Students – defeated
  • 2016.14 to 2016.15, Life membership for Stephanie Longstaff, Susan Wilson, and Terry Berting – carried
  • 2016.17 Discrimination in Schools, amended to remove the words “not only to stop discrimination in our schools but also”, carried
  • 2016.18 Increased Penalties for Failing to Stop for School Buses, carried

Motions from the Floor:

  • 2016.19 That BCCPAC advocate for appropriate funding for programs and resources for learners with asynchronous development / gifted learners, carried  (a definition: “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.”
  • 2016.20 that BCCPAC write to the Ministers of Finance and Education for the immediate investment back to the operating budget of the $29 million in savings for the 2015/16 and the $54 million for 2016/17 collected under the mandated “Administrated Savings Plan”, carried.