Your Simple Guide to Creating a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC)

minute read
March 22, 2023

Every school administrator knows that enrollment numbers and recruitment are essential areas of focus for a successful school system. One of the most powerful and effective tools to drive these initiatives can be found right within your own school and community.

Parent Advisory Committees can be a highly effective way to increase enrollment and strengthen community relationships. Parent referrals are among the most powerful marketing tools for schools as they provide a personal endorsement from a satisfied parent. This type of word-of-mouth advertising can be more influential than other advertising outlets, resulting in 3-5x higher conversion rates when compared to other marketing channels.

Parent Advisory Committees (PAC) are also sometimes called Parent Advocate Committees. The PAC is made up of volunteer parents who represent the interests of the school community and provide a valuable bridge between the school and the families it serves. Keep reading for more information about how to create a PAC, how to utilize your school ambassadors, and how to reward your team of parents.

What Are the Parent Advisory Committee’s Responsibilities?

1. Communicating with the school administration

One of the primary responsibilities of a PAC is to communicate with the school administration. This includes sharing feedback and concerns from parents, providing input on school policies and initiatives, and collaborating with the administration to improve the overall school experience. PAC members should be able to communicate effectively with school staff and administrators in a constructive and respectful manner.

2. Organizing parent involvement activities

Another important responsibility of a PAC is to organize parent involvement activities. This can include fundraising events, volunteer opportunities, and parent education sessions. These activities help to promote a sense of community within the school and give parents a chance to become more involved in their child's education.

3. Advocating for student needs

The PAC should advocate for the needs of all students, including those with special needs or who are part of historically marginalized groups. PAC members can work with the school administration to ensure that all students are receiving the support they need to succeed academically and socially.

4. Providing input on school policies and procedures

The PAC should provide input on school policies and procedures, including those related to discipline, safety, and curriculum. PAC members can provide valuable feedback on proposed policies and help to ensure that school policies are fair, equitable, and effective.

5. Promoting positive school culture

Finally, the PAC should promote a positive school culture that fosters learning and respect. PAC members can work with the school administration to promote anti-bullying initiatives, encourage positive behavior, and support student mental health and wellness.

Getting Started with a Parent Advisory Committee

The first step in developing your PAC is identifying the goals for the group you’re building. Look at enrollment numbers and trends, and the percentages of referrals that currently exist within your ecosystem. Determine how many referrals you want, the percentage of enrollment growth you need, or your desired conversion rate . Not all goals are financial-based, however marketing budgets that are used to support enrollment, typically result in an increase in school funding and resources.

Set Up A System to Analyze Your Progress

Make sure you have a way to track referrals so that you can easily analyze the results and make improvements to the program you are building. If you already have a school referral tracking system in place, look through recent referrals to see if there are already top recruiters.

How To Go About Creating Your Parent Advisory Committee

No matter the size of your school, you can likely identify students and parents that embody your school’s mission and values. The next step in creating your PAC is to choose the right people for the job. Look for families that are involved in different activities or that have multiple children in your school district. Consider the different areas that you would want to share more information about (academics, athletics, performing arts, etc.) and choose a diverse set of parents who could discuss these different topics.

Not everyone needs to know everything, and not all parents will be rock stars right out of the gate. Pulling parents with students involved in different areas, or with students in different grades or buildings will help you tailor your referral conversations with potential new students based on their interests and their own unique family situations.

Train Your Committee

After identifying potential committee members, you will need to set up a training session. This shouldn’t be a “one and done” type meeting but should occur on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.) for the sharing of updated information and feedback, and to allow for conversations around improvement to the PAC. Your initial training session should be focused on communicating your school’s strengths, mission, advantages, and opportunities for students.

Focus on Messaging

Be sure that everyone truly understands your school brand and messaging, and is able to translate it through their own words in a way that upholds your values and best represents your school. Teach your parents tips for identifying potential issues or questions a new student might have, and work on ways to overcome those objections. Discuss the types of families and students you’re hoping to recruit through this program and share any of your goals and plans.

Utilizing Your School’s Parent Advisory Committee

Now that you have the group assembled and trained, it’s time to put your PAC to work! Use the information you reviewed when determining your goals to look for weaknesses in your school recruitment efforts. Maybe it’s students of a certain age, or with a certain interest, or another demographic or psychographic that you want to recruit more of. Find parents within your committee who are strong in those areas, and send them out to share your school with their friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else they might come in contact with.

Match any incoming school inquiries with a parent on your committee with a similar interest, situation, or family structure to build trust through word-of-mouth/personal experience testimony. It’s one thing to shout your own strengths from the rooftops with your school marketing strategy, but having someone else shout your strengths can be more impactful and believable.

Rewards and Incentives for Your Parent Advisory Committee

Rewarding and incentivizing your PAC can be tricky, and you likely don’t want to dedicate a large portion of your budget just to rewards. The PAC shouldn’t be a secret society, but you also don’t want other parents and families feeling left out or overlooked if they were not chosen to participate.

Offering school tuition credits is one reward that might discourage other parents who are not on the committee, and instead we suggest offering something extra to your PAC. It could be as simple as a hand-written thank you or recognition at your next training session, a small gift or gift card, or a gesture of appreciation like hosting a breakfast or dinner periodically for the entire group.

Rewards and incentives can be utilized to motivate your PAC and drive referrals, but they shouldn’t be used to segregate your PAC from the rest of your school’s community.

Once your Parent Advisory Committee is established and seeing results, be sure to check in on your referral program and monitor your goals regularly. You may need to increase or decrease the size of the committee or provide additional training if parents are proving to be unsuccessful at referring new students. Your reward or incentive structure may need to change to better match the enrollment goals you’ve set.

How SOLVED Helps Schools

SOLVED Consulting helps all types of schools and districts improve their enrollment, develop marketing strategies and budgets and identify key areas of focus within their organizations. Our data, technology and support services will help your team reach its goals, and we’d love to talk more about your school’s needs. Schedule a free consultation with our team to get started today!

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