When schools merge
When schools merge there is sometimes anxiety over the ongoing role of the Parent Club. A large school with no Parent Club may merge with a small school with a very active Parent Group. Concerns of the small school may include loss of identity and what will happen to the funds they have raised for their school community.
The larger school may have concerns about parents from the smaller school coming in and ‘taking over’. DET advises that:
“When a school closes the parent club is automatically dissolved as a matter of course. Where schools merge or demerge, the schools involved close and then form a new school entity/entities. If the schools have parent clubs, the clubs will also close.
A new parent club can be formed once the new school entity/entities have been established. Any funds, property and/or assets from the closed parent clubs go to the newly merged school entity/entities.
It is the new school council’s decision how the funds and resources are allocated if a new parent club(s) is formed at the new school. The Department encourages school councils to work with parent clubs to determine the most effective allocation of funds.”
There is a range of different possible scenarios. Here are a few tips which might help. Once the decision to merge has been made:
- Get parents on board early. Organise opportunities for parents from merging schools/parent groups to meet informally e.g. morning coffee
- Invite the other club/s to attend your meeting
- If both schools have a parents group, get the committees together and start talking about how you can work together
- If only one school has a parent group, organise a meeting with the new principal/school council. Explain what you do and that you are looking forward to playing an active role in the new school.
- Make sure there is open and effective communication so that everyone knows what is happening
- Have a discussion with the new principal/school council about the possibility of “rolling over” the funds from the previous parent group/s to the new group. It was due to your efforts that these funds were raised with the expectation that they would be used to provide benefits to the school/students.
- Openly discuss traditions which are important to your club/school and how they may be able to be carried on at the new school
- Celebrate the achievements of the clubs to be dissolved
- Discuss with School Council if there are items which need to be purchased for the new school that can be tagged with a plaque recording the contribution of the group e.g. a closing primary school might like to purchase a piece of playground equipment for the new school.
- Form a sub-committee of interested parents to draft a constitution for the new parent group.
- Once the schools have officially merged organise an AGM to adopt the constitution and elect officer bearers for the new club
- Be conscious that once the new school commences, the parent group is there to support the whole school. You may find that the roles of the new club are different from what you are used to.
- Welcome new opportunities