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Ever since I wrote my first piece about starting my own school I receive at least four emails a week asking for more information as to how other individuals can start schools. I never really thought this type of idea would take off, it seems that more and more teachers are reaching the fork in the road and having to decide whether to keep doing something they love by staying in the classroom and just ‘sucking it up’, or taking a huge risk and diving into the adventure of school start-up which may or may not allow them to continue a classroom teacher role.
So I wanted to address the three main questions I get asked from teachers who are at their wits end and are ready to take the plunge.
1. Where do I start? There is no streamlined answer to this question. Each state deals with keeping track of its schools in a different manner. Some states require all schools, private and public, to be accredited. One exception to this might be if the school is affiliated with a religious organization. Some states require all proposals to be applied for through the State Department of Education and applicants must go through a presentation process in front of a panel. Some states require that all proposed schools be registered through the State Department of Education even if the school isn’t accredited. The only way to discover the answer to this question is to contact the State Department of Education in the state where the school will be established and ask what the state requires for school start-up. Some states even list requirements under the ‘private school’ part of their policies.
2. What about finances? This one is tricky. Again, this answer is different for each individual. More accurately, this question needs to be rephrased to ‘What is the purpose of my school?’ If you are wanting to start up a fine arts school, then a possibility for financial support may lie in finding sponsors, like dance studios or art studios, to help out with expenses. If your school is going to be affiliated with a religious organization, monies might be secured through whatever organization it is affiliated with as long as the school follows certain guidelines. If your school is a mainstream private school then registration fees and tuition will more than likely be your main source of financial support. Don’t overlook fundraising opportunities as well. In a school every little thing costs, from the toilet paper in the bathrooms to the insurance on your building and staff. It’s always best to start small and allow room to grow.
3. What about finding students? If you are planning to embark on this adventure, you must make sure that a need is being met. Starting a school doesn’t happen overnight. Planning may take several years and part of that planning is making sure that people are aware of what you are thinking about doing. Feedback is important. What is going to set your school apart from other schools like it? What will your focus be on? What population will you target? You must really sit down and make a plan. This is another area where starting small is a benefit. When you are dealing with children and families, flying by the seat of your pants is not acceptable.
For those who want more information on this topic, please feel free to contact me. Good luck![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]