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:

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

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