Your Secret Weapon in the Battle Against Volunteer Burnout

The end of the school year signals the scramble to make up snow days in many school districts. If your PTA manages an after school program, you know that snow days bring additional headaches: canceled sessions, refunds to parents, confusion among vendors…the list is endless. If you’re in this situation, now the rush is on to squeeze in extra sessions or spend hours trying to reconcile books and issue refunds.

It’s worth considering a partnership with a full-service management company to take some of this load off your PTA.

“Part of our job is to manage the ‘what ifs’,” says Joshua Chernikoff, President of Flex Academies. “Our partner schools know that if there is a snow day, everything is handled — from communicating about canceled sessions with parents and vendors, to issuing refunds and scheduling makeups,” he says.

In a partnership with Flex Academies, a PTA liaison doesn’t have the headaches of managing after school enrichment programs. He or she is only asked to communicate the school’s needs to Flex and promote the program to parents.

Kristen Clemens is a PTA liaison in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “The liaison role requires being that communication person between Flex and the PTA, which for most schools probably means the PTA presidents and their executive board as well as the broader PTA membership,” she says.

Clemens says the liaison is valuable in shaping the programs that Flex offers for each school. So there is still parent input without the heavy lifting involved in volunteer management. “The PTA liaison role is critical because Flex brings their expertise of all the pieces to be built for the program, but the PTA liaison sort of brings the specific needs of the school. It’s sort of a cool role to play because you get to facilitate communication, help make some decisions,” says Clemens.

Flex Academies is known for management of high-quality after school enrichment programs. But who decides what those programs are? “We work with the school’s PTA to develop the offerings,” says Chernikoff. “Some schools prefer to have specific programs, tailored to their student body, and we can do that. But if a school wants us to plan and design the programs, we can do that too.”

It’s the planning, the managing, the day-to-day tasks for a program with many students, that take a toll on parent volunteers and cause many to burn out. PTA President Laura Chace says that burnout is “very real.”

“When you have one or two parents trying to do that for hundreds of kids, it becomes a full-time job. The volunteer burnout is going to happen when you are putting that much on a parent volunteer,” says Chace. She acknowledges that changing situations, like parents moving on to the next school with their kids, or parents taking on full- or part-time jobs, also impact a PTA’s pool of volunteers. “They can’t dedicate the time they did before to the PTA, so your pool of candidates is limited,” she says.

Volunteers are a precious resource that schools can’t afford to waste,” says Joshua Chernikoff, President of Flex Academies. “A big part of our job is to help parent teacher organizations maximize their volunteer base by taking the most time-consuming tasks involved with afterschool program management off their shoulders.”

Clemens appreciates the freedom that Flex offers her PTA, covering every detail, including providing templates for communicating with parents about the program to save the liaison time. “Flex is really there to make our life easier and Flex does,” she says.

Chace agrees. “We have more accountability and monitoring of the system, choices, and classes. So in the end, for us it was a good decision, and we are happy to have Flex monitoring and managing that for us,” she says.

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