Does it really matter and can you dismiss situations based on how old a constitution is?
Yes it matters and no you cannot dismiss sections of the bylaws no matter how old the document is. If your PAC or DPAC needs to revisit some sections of your bylaws then discussing potential changes at a PAC or DPAC meeting is a good way to get feedback and ideas. The current bylaws will have a process by which to made changes. This process must be followed to ensure the new constitution and bylaws are adopted properly.
How do PACs and DPAC hold elections for executive positions?
The bylaws will state what your executive positions are. Traditionally that includes a Chair or President, Vice-Chair or Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Members-At-Large. PACs will have SPC and DPAC Representatives and may also include Committee Chairs such as Lunch Program and Fund Raising. DPACs may have additional positions such as District Liaison or BCCPAC Liaison.
The bylaws will also state elections are to be held during the annual general meeting (AGM). The timing of an AGM depends on the bylaws. Some hold AGMs in the Fall, once PACs and DPACs have had a chance to meet and solicit interest. Some hold AGMs in the Spring to prepare for the coming school year.
PACs and DPACs should put a call-out for nominations before the AGM and during the AGM. Eligibility will depend on what the bylaws say but traditionally PACs and DPACs allow all parents (including guardians) from their school community to run for positions. During the AGM the final call for nominations is made.
Its best to determine ahead of time if an election will be by show of hands or secret ballot, except for the election of School Planning Council reps which are – by legislation – required to be held by secret ballot. If only one person runs for a position, they are acclaimed to that position. If more than one person is running for a position an election will occur.
It should be noted in the AGM minutes who the successful candidates are and those elected to the PAC or DPAC traditionally take their positions at the close of the AGM. Should a vacancy arise on the executive the bylaws should provide direction as to how to fill that vacancy including whether or not another election is needed or a simple motion at a regular meeting will do.
How do I re-start a PAC?
Sometimes, for many reasons, a PAC finds itself no longer able to attract interested parents and the council becomes inactive. This doesn’t mean it has dissolved. If interested parents want to re-start the PAC at their school they must contact the principal to see if the constitution and bylaws can be located and if there are any past meeting minutes, bank statements or other important documents from the previous PAC. If possible contacting a past PAC member to see where this information is located can save hours of searching.
Its very important to contact the financial institute where the PAC bank accounts are held (regular, gaming and potentially other accounts) to find out the process to establish a new signing authority. Each financial institute will have their own process.
How to dissolve a PAC?
When parents decide to dissolve the PAC they must consult their bylaws for timing of notice and disbursements of any assets.
What happens to PAC Funds upon dissolution?
A PAC’s bylaws will dictate where their remaining funds must be sent upon dissolution. Sometimes its to the school district, sometimes its to another school especially in the event of PAC dissolution due to school closure. If a PAC has any remaining gaming funds, those funds must follow the criteria set out by the Gaming Commission.
The following is taken from SD73-Merging Our Futures: Transition Planning for Our Kids workshop held at the Henry Grube Education Centre March 30 2010
- PAC can vote to make a donation to another PAC in advance of dissolution (regular and/or gaming funds).
- PAC can vote to spend money by end of year (not transfer). You might choose to have a giant “party” and spend it all but remember that transferring money to your new school PAC along with your students will provide for a better balance of power.
- Spending must follow regular guidelines i.e. adhere to mission in constitution and regular gaming rules
- In cases where one or more grades are leaving the school, PAC may choose to send a corresponding amount along with their departing students to the new school. Gaming funds are allocated on a per student basis of $20/student.
- PAC at a closing school can still apply for gaming funds, keep account open until $ arrives, then transfer to receiving PAC and close accounts in the fall.
- Alternatively, receiving PAC can apply for gaming funds for existing & transferred students all in one application this spring (application period April 1 to June 30).
- Keep gaming commission informed: consider sending joint letter from both PACs to the Branch for approval outlining plans with regard to gaming funds.
Reporting is required until all gaming funds have been distributed and the Gaming Account is closed
- Check your Constitution & Bylaws. Generally easier to make any donations/transfers in advance of dissolution.
- Keep good records (minutes) of all decisions made
- Generally, assets become school property when the purchases are complete (PAC doesn’t hold assets beyond cash). Parents can request that certain assets follow their children to the new school.
PACs may choose to leave them where they are as a community resource, or may choose to move them to the receiving school if there is room. Note: some equipment cannot be safely moved and re-installed
What happens when one PAC must merge with another?
Sometimes school districts must make the difficult decision to close a school. Many times the closing school students are designated to attend another school, other times students are dispersed across several schools. In any case, parent leaders at the closing school – including PAC executive members, lunch program volunteers, etc. – find themselves spending their time and energy at a new school.
The ideas below are to help parents transition from one PAC to another. These ideas can also be used to invigorate an existing PAC as well.
Traditions & History
- Keep in mind that schools are merging as “partners”
- Both schools have history and traditions to be proud of
- Consider conducting a survey to find out which activities etc. mean the most to each school community and try to find ways to “blend” traditions
- Look into ways of displaying some prized artifacts etc. from each school at the receiving school – there is now a shared history to honour
- Parents will set tone for children. Be positive! Kids should be excited about the merger, not dread it.
- You are merging two PACs and two school cultures. Both PACs need to be sensitive to the other – each of you are giving up something, but with good planning and commitment, you can build something even better together
- Invite both PACs to all upcoming PAC meetings – learn about each other
- Consider delaying AGM until fall if normally held in May/June
- Consider electing co-chairs for a year (one from each PAC), and ensuring that both schools are equally represented in other exec. positions
- Realize that not all events from both schools are likely to continue – but be sure that some from each do continue. Evaluate what was most successful and focus on those. This is a great time for “clean slate” rethinking and refocusing
- Consider limiting your PAC goals for the coming year or two to building a solid, unified community (make a plan!)
Easing the transition for students (just suggestions to share – your own ideas are best!)
- Plan social events for the kids to meet each other. Pair up families/students from both schools. Potlucks, get-to-know-you coffees at the school – whatever works!
- Consider doing some events together this spring. Fun days are great to combine (make sure there is “mixing” built into the teams)
- Is your school mascot/logo tired? You’ll never have a better opportunity to engage students in designing a new one! Run contests right away in the fall – let the older students run the process
- Create “pods” of students in the merged school, purposefully mixing the groups. Use these for intramural sports or other team challenges (contests, etc). The idea is to “mix up” the previous student groups.
- If your schools have hot lunch programs, find out what the most popular meals are from each school and be sure to include some of each on this fall’s menu
- Consider asking teachers to do some joint work with the two grades this spring (possibly joint field trips, class project work, etc). Each face that is familiar in the fall will ease anxiety for both transferring and receiving student populations. Volunteer to help with the extra work created by these projects!
- Consider starting a Walking School Bus if students will have to cross busy streets to get to their new school (or even their old one). This is a parent-run program developed by ICBC that picks up students along the route and ensures that they are supervised all the way to school. More info at http://www.walkingschoolbus.org