Organization of Parent Advisory Council (PAC)

positions-fullSchool communities throughout the Vancouver school district are quite varied, and they are organized within the framework of provincial and school board policy to best meet their individual needs. The School Act now requires that PACs, “…in consultation with the principal, must make bylaws governing its meetings and the business and conduct of its affairs…” A sample set is available on line at the British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils’ (BCCPAC) website at www.bccpac.bc.ca 

Membership of a PAC:
All parents/guardians of children in a school are members of the Parent Advisory Council and entitled to attend meetings. The principal or vice principal will be a member (ex officio) of the Parent Advisory Council. A teacher representative will be appointed and may also attend the meetings to provide information, answer questions, and discuss school matters and parental concerns. Many secondary PACs also include a student representative.

The purpose of a PAC is:
  • To enhance the educational opportunities for students of the School by promoting a safe and positive learning environment.
  • To raise funds for educational resources and activities.
  • To advocate for the students' educational needs.
  • To support, encourage, and improve the quality of education and the well being of students
  • To provide a forum to openly review and discuss any matter related to the school and to advise the Principal, staff, or other associated organizations of any recommendations
  • To promote the effective communication and cooperation between the home and school in providing for the education of children
  • To provide parents with information on how to effectively communicate within the education system and to advocate on behalf of their children at both the School and District level
What is PAC NOT? 
  • A PAC is not a forum for discussion of individual staff members or students, such discussions should be arranged privately with the teacher, principal or associate superintendent.

PAC Executive Positions & their Roles

Woman with question marks above headAt an annual general meeting held in the spring or fall, PACs elect an executive usually consisting of a chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer. Elected PAC executives often hold regular executive meetings between general PAC meetings to organize and carry out the day-to-day work of the PAC.

Chair The chairperson coordinates Parent Advisory Council affairs in cooperation with other executive members. The chairperson makes a sincere effort to understand local conditions in the school and community, and maintains a spirit of loyalty, cooperation and friendliness among the executive and general membership.
The chairperson also:

  • Presides at all meetings (If he or she is unable to attend, the vice-chairperson fills in. If they are both absent, the secretary calls the meetings and an alternative chairperson is appointed.);
  • Conducts business meetings;
  • Establishes meeting rules with the executive members;
  • Helps the vice-chairperson and secretary prepare the agenda for all meetings and consults with the principal;
  • Is responsible for preparing the information and facts needed for a good discussion on agenda topics.
  • Keeps meetings orderly (To keep spur-of-the-moment decision-making to a minimum, the Chairperson provides an opportunity for additions to the agenda at the beginning of the Meeting. However, some unexpected discussions may be important and should not be neglected. A quick vote at the meeting can decide this issue.); and,
  • Sets a timetable and sticks to it after the members decide the best time for beginning and ending meetings.

The Vice-Chairperson- The vice-chairperson fulfills an important role as an understudy to the chairperson and:

  • Reads and distributes all material received and discusses the information with committee chairpersons and members;
  • Learns duties and responsibilities of the chairperson in order to preside at meetings in her or his absence;
  • Takes over if the chairperson resigns;
  • May be called upon to chair special committees or projects; and,
  • May assume the office of chairperson the following year if there is support from the general membership

Secretary The Secretary:

  • Records minutes of regular and executive meetings;
  • Presents and reads minutes for adoption at meetings; and,
  • Circulates attendance sheets during meetings and forwards to vice-chairperson
  • Keeps a file of incoming correspondence and copies of outgoing correspondence
  • Forwards list of executive names and positions to the board office
  • Maintains a minutes book that may include:
    1. rules of order 
    2. notebooks from past executives and committee chairpersons 
    3. school hand-book, and general membership list 
    4. teaching staff and their areas of interest 
    5. school profile 
    6. past submissions and correspondence to the board and the Ministry of Education

Treasurer- The treasurer is the custodian of funds and:

  • disburses money according to the rules of the group and notes transactions in the treasurer’s book; and,
  • presents a report of finances at each meeting for information (an annual report is usually adopted before the election of new officers)

DPAC RepresentativeThe district parent coordinator works to provide support for the activities of the area district parents, and serves as a resource for DPAC members and PAC chairs

SPC School Planning Council - The School Planning Council is an advisory body whose major responsibility is to consult with the school community in developing, monitoring and reviewing the School Plan for improving student achievement. The School Planning Council (SPC) must consult with the Parent Advisory Council in the preparation of the school plan. Members of the School Planning Council are the school principal or annex vice-principal, one teacher, three parents from the PAC (one of whom must be on the PAC executive), and – at the secondary level – one student.

PAC Committee Chairs & their Roles:

Classroom Reps: Each class (or division) has one or two parent representatives for the school year. The class rep provides a point of contact between the school and the parents.

Grade 5 Leaving Committee:


  • Organizes the design of and chooses the colours being offered
  • Liaison between the manufacturer and parents/students
  • Responsible for distribution and collection of orders
  • Collects payments and places the orders with manufacturers


  • Collects photos of the grade 5 students
  • Collects photos of special events going on at the school through out the year
  • Collects memorable quotes and/or sayings from each grade 5 student
  • Designs the layout of the yearbook and entering all material collected.
  • Is responsible for distribution and collection of order forms, payments, ordering and distribution of yearbooks.

Grade 5 grad party

  • Plan the event of choice
  • Chose date and time of the event
  • Is there going to be theme?
  • What is involved – games, activities, food, drinks, decorations, cake, etc?
  • What needs to be ordered?
  • Are invitations to parents going out, if so, by when and who’s doing them up?
  • Arrange to have parents pick up items the day of the event

Canadian Parents for French: A liaison for French Immersion School PAC’s and CPF (Canadian Parents for French). The volunteer for this position will update their PAC on upcoming events for parents and students in the French Immersion Program.

Lunch Coordinator: Organizes the distribution of lunch order forms; collection of orders & money, counting of money & order tallying, placing the lunch orders & distribution of lunches on the chosen day.

(Partner with restaurants that meet the nutritional guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Education & the Ministry of Health)

Fundraising Coordinator: Plans the events and fundraisers for the year and organizes volunteers for the individual fundraisers and/or events being planned and may also liaison between fundraising companies and parents.

Health & Safety Coordinator: Organizes events that relate to ‘health & safety’ such as; arranging emergency kits, regulating traffic in and around the school,

Communication Coordinator: The coordinator of this position is the voice between the parents and the PAC. This may involve correspondence through emails, letter, and/or writing and distribution of the PAC newsletter.

Parent Volunteers: There are many opportunities for parents to get involved and help out through the school year. Most fundraisers or events require volunteer help on a monthly basis.


What is DPAC?

District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) is an organization who strives to be the voice of all parents in School District 43.  It is made up of representatives of each school’s PAC. The DPAC Rep of each individual school acts as a liaison between their school PAC and DPAC, representing the views and interests of their PAC.

The School Act (Province of British Columbia) defines the responsibilities and authority of the DPAC as an advisory and advocacy council. It may make recommendations to the School Board through the School Board’s officials or by representation, and provide the School Board with information to assist in decision- making.

DPAC43 often presents parent education workshops on a variety of topical issues, which are free to all parents to attend.


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Build a Strong Team

positions-build-strong-team-fullWorking to form a cohesive Parent Advisory Committee can pay off in long-term success for your parent group.

PAC leaders all have an important role to play based on their particular position. But there’s a second role: How well your officer’s work together as executive team can determine the success of your PAC. Taking a few key steps early can help these individuals function as a team. Failure to lay the groundwork can have serious consequences when real challenges and disputes arise during the school year.

Get To Know Each Other

Working together as colleagues and being acquainted with each other are two completely different things. Set aside some time to get to know each other better.  Find out about each others families and children; share your experiences as to why you decided to get involved with the PAC. It’s also important to find out what time constraints and job demands each of you have, this way there will be no surprises when one of you can’t help out with an event.  What are your talents and experience that you are bringing to the board? And be sure that every member of the board has a clear understanding of the responsibilities and job expectations for themselves and their fellow officers.

What is your Vision

What you may see happening within the school may be completely different to the other board members. It’s important to communicate and come up with a ‘shared vision’. What is it that each of you want from the PAC, or for the students and families at your school? Are you hoping to improve, expand, increase activities, raise more funds, engage more parents or reach out to the community with your PAC? How are you going to gauge how well you are doing or if you are meeting your goals? These are important topics that your Executive Board needs to discuss and have a clear vision of.

Depending on your goals and vision, you will need to proactively create a plan for your particular PAC and work around the needs of each member. Set specific goals and keep track of your progress and success.  Have a plan that best suits your group and take into consideration the needs of your individual school, the parents and staff; and how your vision will affect them.

Set Ground Rules

As elected officers, you are the leaders of the PAC and other members will look to you for guidance. The way you conduct yourself, your level of commitment and the work you produce will be judged by parents and will determine their level of involvement. Warmth, enthusiasm and excitement are contagious, parents will want to be around, helping out when they sense you are genuine and have the best interest of the school at heart. People also will gather around when they sense a winning spirit and appreciation for their support.

Working together and having open communication is vital to a successful PAC. Individuals within the board meeting must feel safe with sharing their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Make sure debates on topics do not become personal. An open, calm discussion will generate a much better solution then if one officer attacks a point on her own. Keep in mind that everyone is volunteering their time and should all be working for the same purpose; to improve the quality of education for all the children within the school.

It is unrealistic to think that you will all agree on every single topic, sometimes it’s necessary to reach a consensus and move on. It’s important for your PAC in those situations to present a face of unity to the rest present, even on controversial topics. Don’t undermine your members’ confidence in the PAC’s leadership by publicly squabbling over PAC business.

Meet Regularly

A lot of time and effort goes into planning for the year; even so, evaluating recent fundraisers & events and brainstorming new ideas can’t always be done during a PAC meeting, therefore, it may be necessary to meet as officers in private and on a regular basis.

PAC members occasionally must discuss conflicts or confidential matters; this should be done in the privacy of the boardroom. During a PAC meeting there should also be an opportunity for other members to bring issues before the board. Committee chairs may present their detailed project plans to the board for approval, instead of having a lengthy discussion at a general meeting, where time may be limited.

The secretary is typically responsible for producing the agenda for the next meeting; however, the PAC officers should work together to develop and have input as to what will be in the Agenda for the following meeting. Always start your meetings on time and set time limits for certain discussions if necessary. Make sure to take minutes at any executive board meeting, and pay special attention to document any decisions the board makes.

Put Your Plan into Action

Implementing your PAC’s vision will take ongoing work and organization. You’ll need to plan your various committees, projects, and initiatives. For example, if one of your PAC’s vision includes engaging more kindergarten parents to volunteer, you might establish a new family welcome committee that plans an annual breakfast.

Obviously you must carefully take into consider your resources available to your specific PAC, not every project desired by the PAC or principal is justifiable, it will depend on how much support and help you have. You don’t want to stretch your precious and valuable volunteers too thing or you may risk them burning out. Be realistic about the amount of reliable volunteer support you have and plan accordingly.

The executive officers are the stewards of the PAC’s money and financial constraints may come into play. Within the context of the vision, you must exercise good judgment when allocating PAC funds. If the PAC’s vision includes a goal to extend its support of the school library, it might be wise to coordinate a book sale rather than simply offering a donation from PAC funds.

There may be other factors as well; consider your PAC’s long-standing traditions. Not every project or event has to be new; there’s comfort in continuing successful events year after year. Take into consideration the useful skills and connections of your parents and how can you tap in to them? There are many parents who operate their own business or have skills in carpentry or technology, look at ways your PAC might be able to put them to good use.

It’s always vital to include your school principal when planning and strategizing. The principal can help the PAC when it comes to working with the teachers and apprise the executive of feedback from the staff. They also know what works best within their school and what is appropriate.

Finally, always consider priorities as you develop your PAC’s plans. There may be some fabulous ideas that might just have to take a back seat until more volunteers can be recruited or more money can be raised. With a vision and plan in place, taking into consideration the needs of your PAC and prioritizing, you will be well on your way to leading a strong and successful PAC!

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You’ve been Elected to PAC, Now What?

An overview for first-time board members and tips for getting off to a strong start.

Meet with past officers - Have the new board get together with the old board and discuss the goals that they were pursuing, any projects that were underway and who they may have counted on for help. Speak with each officer and talk about how to do the job most effectively. Find out if any concerns came up for them or if there is something they would have done differently. They may be able to pass along key contacts and other tips that helped them. Even if you feel you won’t use their resources, jot them down in case you need them later on in the year.

Look to other schools - Find out what other parents are doing at their schools. Make contact with parent group leaders and share fundraising information and program ideas. What’s working for them?

Get your board members together in a relaxed setting – Meet for a coffee and discuss expectations and job descriptions. Through out the year, you’ll be working closely with one another, so take some time to get to know one another, talk about personal strengths and weaknesses. Lay a solid foundation now, as it will pay off in the long run when things get hectic.

Begin delegating now – Don’t wait to try and delegate or find volunteers. While things are quiet and you’re learning the ropes, look at delegating responsibilities and finding ones who are willing to help out down the road. Don’t set yourself up for failure by waiting until you’re overwhelmed with projects and events, by then, finding someone to help out will be almost as stressful as doing it yourself. Share the workload now and this will set the stage for success. The more volunteers mean the more work you can accomplish!

When you delegate, follow these three keys: 

  • Focus on the results, not the methodCommunicate what you want to accomplished, then give the person you delegate to the freedom to develop a plan to accomplish that goal.
  • Set firm deadlines Have a few realistic checkpoints, this will allow you to keep track of what’s going on without micromanaging.
  • Communicate limitations - Is there a budget? Is timing crucial? Make sure the person you delegate to have all the information they need to accomplish the task.

Communicate with parents – Surveys can be a great tool to use in finding out exactly what parents are wanting. Making use of drop off and pick up time to speak to parents can also be a great opportunity to engage parents while waiting for your kids. When hosting an event or fundraiser, solicit feedback as to what worked well. The more information you can gather from parents the better, find out what goals, desires, and ideas they have for the school.

Schedule a meeting with the principal to discuss goals – By establishing a good working relationship with the principal right out of the gate, you will be getting off on the right foot. The principal’s goals is always for a better school and a better education for the children, by you respecting their boundaries on decisions the school should make and decisions parents can make, this will set you up for a great year! It’s difficult to have a successful PAC without the support and backing of the school principal, so work hand in hand with them immediately!

Engage your sense of humour – Anyone in a leadership role quickly learns that things don’t always go as planned! Your important message gets misinterpreted; you plan well in advance for problems, except for the one that came at you out of the blue; best intentions get derailed; things happen. Simply put, you can’t control everything! There are too many human variables in everything we do and as a PAC leader you are dealing with a variety of parents. When things go wrong, laugh and look for solutions. Stressing out will only make things worse and has a negative impact on your volunteers. Instead, act as a problem-solver and you’ll be surprised that most times you’ll get the result you were looking for.

Relax, enjoy yourself and have fun! Even if things don’t go exactly how you envisioned them, the work you’re doing really makes a huge difference, to the children, parents and school staff. Be proud of yourself for taking on an important role!

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PAC Officer Elections – FAQ’s

positions-pac-electionsHow do you run a PAC election? Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions.

How do we elect our officers?
First thing you need to do is look at your school’s bylaws. If they include election guidelines, you have an obligation to follow them; however, if there are no guidelines in your bylaws, you should be guided by Robert’s Rules of Order.

Most elections are informal until a PAC encounters a controversial election. Unfortunately, at that point it’s hard to formalize the process without alienating some of the members. Before your PAC experiences this, it may be best to put some policies in place before being caught unprepared in the future.

Below are the basics for nominating and electing officers and are to be used as a guide only. Develop an approach that works for your schools PAC, and then approve it at your next meeting, so there is not confusion over how to elect officers.

Nominating PAC Officers

Is there someone who manages the nomination process?

Many PAC’s establish a nominating committee made up of three to five members. The nominating committee may:

  • Promote the upcoming election
  • Explain requirements for the elected positions
  • Reach out to potential candidates
  • Accept nominations & manage the actual election process

The committee must be unbiased throughout its work.

Most parents feel uncomfortable of their ability to take on a PAC position. The committee can help in this regard by answering questions and demystifying the roles of a PAC position and encourage parents to step forward or volunteer their time.

The nomination and election process can be handled by the current officers; however, they must be unbiased and open to new nominees.

With most PAC’s, self-nomination is the norm. If a parent is nominated by another person, the nominee must agree to the nomination before his or her name is put in for consideration.

Who can be nominated?

Any parent with a child attending the school is eligible to be nominated for an elected office position. You will always want to double check your individual school bylaws first though, in case there is something that states differently.

How are nominations announced?

If there is more then one candidate who is considering running, you may wish to announce the candidates along with a brief bio of the nominees in advance of the election meeting. This can be done via email to your parents, in your school newsletter or posted on your school website or bulletin board.

Must we allow nominations ‘from the floor’?

Yes, Robert’s Rules of Order allows nominations from the floor.  Parents can be nominated right up until the time that the members are ready to vote. Using standard parliamentary procedure, the members must move to ‘close nominations’ before the voting begins. Up until the nominations are formally closed, new nominees can be added even if it’s a member who seems to have come out of nowhere.

Should the candidates give a speech or debate one another?

Officers are not elected based on a platform or a particular point of view, so there is no need for a formal campaign or debate. To ensure that the election process is more than just a popularity contest, you may wish to have the nominees introduce themselves at the election meeting,  share why they want to be elected and add some highlights of their PAC or volunteering service.

Electing & Voting PAC Officers

Who can vote?

Any parent with a child attending the school may vote, but only if they are present at the meeting. (unless specified differently in your individual schools bylaws)

If your bylaws are vague on the definition of ‘member’, you may need to clarify the voting rules before the actual election. Eg: Should you allow one vote per person or one vote per household? Are teachers and administrators allowed to vote?

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, absentee voting is invalid unless your bylaws specifically allow it. Most PAC’s do not allow absentee voting. Save yourselves the of hassle and do not allow absentee voting.

How should we cast our votes?

If you elections are formal, apposed to just recruiting your next officers informally, then you should prepare paper ballots. You can also do ‘a show of hands’, but that may prove embarrassing for some candidates.

The names of the known nominees should be pre-printed on the ballots along with space available to add any new nominees from the floor.

If your PAC is concerned about voter impropriety, you may hand out ballots as members sign in for the meeting.

One or Two PAC members who are not officers and not running for office, along with the principal, should count the ballots privately. Consider saving the counted ballots in a sealed envelope in case there is some later question of the validity of the outcome.

Should we vote for individuals or a ‘chair’?

Check your individual schools policy long before your nominations begin. Some members like to run together, simply in respects the work load. However, you might have other members interested in running for office who are not part of a team. This situation could make for a very awkward election. For this reason, some PAC’s ban the nomination of a chair and elect each individual position on its own.

How do we determine the winner?

Usually, majority wins; however, if your bylaws allow for a co-chair (for eg: co-presidents), then you need to plan how the ‘co’ winners will be determined. How do you decide to elect one president or two co-chairs? Do the top two vote winners automatically share the position? What if you have three nominees for the position, would you allow three parents to share one office as ‘tri-chair’? These details need to be worked out in advance, however, in most cases you will only have 1 or at the most 2 running.

When do the new officers take over?

Your individual bylaws will determine the transition date. Most PAC’s are elected in May and take over the position the following September, with everything being handed over in June. If your bylaws do not clarify, Robert’s Rules of Order stipulates that elections take effect immediately.

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