Starting a private school is a challenging process and generally takes no less than 2 years. Private schools often have high academic standards, low teacher-student ratios, availability of non-core subjects such as art and music and an emphasis on discipline, safety, community service, and values. Private schools can be proprietary (for-profit), however most are incorporated non-profit entities.
5 Essential Elements of a New School
- Do not start too small. You will need at least four teachers to cover the basic, core areas of knowledge. With fewer than four, the school is too small, too fragile and probably will not make it.
- Prepare to manage money and details. Starting a school requires the ability to raise money, monitor a budget, manage a school and faculty, do public relations, work with a school council, and understand fine-print regulations of special education, finances, and building codes.
- Rigorously assess and evaluate. Much of what is being done may be experimental, so it must be carefully evaluated. It is also important to do internal evaluations and get feedback from parents about the effectiveness of programs.
- Do not reinvent the wheel. There are models out there to learn from. Identify alternative models that reflect the kind of school you envision, and use their experience as a guide.
- Share your dream. The teachers, staff and families need to believe in your philosophy. Set up shared decision-making. Schools are most effective when parents, teachers, and students work together on a council to give direction.
The following steps will help guide you in starting a private school.
Determine the grade levels for your private school.
- How many and which grades will you start with and how many will you eventually grow to include?
- Many private schools start with fewer and lower grade levels and add upper grades over time.
Write a mission statement for the school to focus your reasons for starting a private school.
- This statement will be the driving philosophy for your educational plans and a way to gather community support.
- The mission statement should include a rationale for starting your school, your school values, the educational approach, the curriculum focus and goals and planned outcomes for students.
Assemble a private school committee.
- The committee will eventually become the core members of your board of directors.
- Committee members should be experts in different areas, including education, legal, accounting, business and construction.
Research your state’s educational requirements for private schools.
- In some states, private schools are overseen by a division of the Department of Education. Other states have individual accrediting agencies for private schools, while still others have no private school regulations.
Create the business entity.
- Determine if your private school will be proprietary (for-profit) or non-profit.
- Most private schools incorporate and apply for tax-exempt status. File the appropriate paperwork with your Secretary of the State and the IRS. Your founding committee attorney should handle this step.
Write a business plan for your private school.
- Create a 5-year business plan, including operational plans (such as financial and marketing) and educational plans (such as educational focus, curriculum, implementation and assessment).
Determine your budget and secure your funding.
- The budget should include capital expenses.
- Your committee accountant or financial specialist should help with the budget, or you should seek expert advice.
- If you are operating as a non-profit, solicit contributions by asking for donations from foundations, applying for grants and establishing donations from private donors.
Find a location for your private school.
- Locate a current facility or develop plans to build one.
Interview and hire critical staff members.
- The first 2 staff members you should hire are the headmaster and a business manager. This should be done approximately 18 months prior to the start of school so you will have experienced professionals to help implement the final steps to starting your private school.
- The headmaster/administrator will be able to help you handle the educational and staffing aspects of the school plan, while the business manager will work with you on duties such as enrollment and purchasing.
Promote your private school to prospective parents and students.
- Advertise for students through community, church and service groups. You can also advertise through local newspapers and magazines and submit your school to online and private school directories.
- Design a website that will provide admissions and enrollment information.
- Join national private school associations for exposure.
Open your business office.
- Begin the admissions process for students.
- Order your curriculum materials, furniture and educational supplies.
Interview and hire faculty.
- It is extremely important to find highly-qualified teachers and staff, so be competitive in your compensation.
- States vary in requirements for private school teacher qualifications.
- Provide faculty training sessions several months before the start of school to familiarize the teachers and staff with the school, policies, procedures, expectations, curriculum and your vision for the school.
Open your private school.
- Plan your opening for when other schools in the area are starting. This is usually in the early fall.
I really hope this article will help you.