It could be a lifelong dream of yours to start and run a private education center for children or maybe you feel the need to create some necessary change to the education system by viewing things from outside the box. A charter school helps you achieve this dream. So, you are curious to know how to start your own charter school, what is involved, how much it would cost, the legal processes involved, the facilities needed and most likely how to get a smooth running academic institution which will inculcate the most into the wards put under your care.
What are Charter Schools?
Of course, we will not kick off without explaining what charter schools are all about. If this is skipped, we would be missing a bar.
Generally, Charter schools are public educational units which has no ties to the local school district, they serve the purpose of bringing into the education system new paths and ways of learning. They incorporate innovative approaches and techniques into learning and teaching. Although charter schools are independent of the local school district, they are compelled to use the same local and state determined education standards as other public schools.
Charter schools give parents and their wards an alternative academic experience from what is. Most of the time, charter schools are expected to be forward thinking and edge-cutting. They provide outside the box options to children within the confines of the guidelines given by the state’s academic body.
Charter schools are accepted by law in a few states and are publicly funded by these states within which they operate in.
How to Start your Own Charter School
Schooling is formative, especially at lower-level cadres. It builds the absolute foundations for every young child in the modern society.
As part of the UN SDGs, Education is listed as a primary objective, and not just any sort of education but that which inducts the child into the society’s values and culture. Starting a Charter School is therefore a huge responsibility to undertake but yet, as tasking as it is, it is also fulfilling.
If you feel this zeal to start up this academic venture, then read along. Here, you will find all you need to know about how to start your own Charter school.
Applying to Have your Charter School Approved
Charter schools need to first of all get approval from charter-granting agencies sanctioned by each state’s Department of Education for the purpose of regulating charter schools. Charter school applications to these agencies are usually followed up by meetings with State representatives. During these meetings you and your team would need to employ your best persuasive skills to convince the representative(s) on the feasibility of your plans.
You and your team should know all which is needed to have a charter school implemented and should be ready to push for it. In all states which allow charter schools, there is a specified number of charter schools allowed for each district. Proper research has to be carried out by your team to ensure there are no grey areas when you finally begin the application process. It should be a responsibility to know the charter school laws for your State by heart in order to have a smooth application process.
Although there is no single general compendium for the application process in all states, here are a few major important procedures to take,
- Familiarize yourself and your board with all aspects of your state’s charter school legislation. It is important to know your state’s specific guidelines, deadlines, and regulations.
- Draft and submit a letter of intent. Which should outline the planning and design of the proposed charter school, the board members for the proposed charter school and the operation design of your proposed charter school.
- Wait for approval. After submitting your application, your school will need approval before it begins to function.
Beginning your Charter School
Now after getting approved, you can now delve into your primary objective- starting your own charter school. Beginning a charter school, oftentimes, is an idea borne out of desire for positive change in the academic standards and a desire for improvement in the educational system. It could be an individual dream or a collective dream to provide a better education standard for the next generation of kids.
Everything about humankind evolves and the education system as an important foundation block of humanity has to improve too. By beginning a charter school you will be doing a lot of service to improve the education system in America, therefore it is not just all about the profit made, it also involves impact felt by the quality of education from your school.
You would not want your school to be shut down for breaking the rules, so you should adhere strictly to the state laws concerning charter schools and leverage on the laws which are favorable towards creating this change you seek.
While beginning, it is very important to develop a strong mission statement for your school. This will be a driving force for all involved with the school. It defines your charter school and gives it purpose.
A very good mission statement passes a message across which ingrains into the school community the values and ideals of your school. It could also help you while applying for funds as people who have similar vision as yours find it much easier to become part of the train.
Drawing up a Curriculum for your Charter School
Developing a working curriculum for a school can be quite daunting at first (especially as charter schools do not always align with other public schools). It requires a lot of research and caution. Since charter schools most often have their students writing State mandatory tests, the curriculum should not totally deflect away from the norm.
Even though drawing up the curriculum may prove tasking, with an excellent mission statement you should have an inkling of how and what the curriculum would look like at the end before beginning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure to gather as much number of educators as possible to brainstorm on this before take off. A great curriculum gives you an outline of what your program would look like.
Setting Standards for your Charter School
When starting up, you need to set standards with which your school will work. These standards will serve as a measure to the success of your school.
Set goals. Do not just set goals, set timelines to achieve these set goals.
While setting goals and timelines, it is very important to be realistic about them else you will have your stack of dominoes falling apart. The goals should be objective and measurable too.
Costing your Charter School
Before starting up a charter school you would have to carry out a survey for the cost of land (if you are building the school from ground up) and cost of different facilities (computers, furniture, books for the library, refrigerators, etc) necessary to establish the school. Calculations should also be done for the recurring expenses which majorly involves the salaries of personnel/staff, toiletries, medical supplies and rent (if you decide to rent a space for the school) amongst others.
When the school becomes established, recurring expenses would most likely involve returns for the monthly loan used in establishing the school, the staff salaries (which is estimated to about $61, 000 per month for a startup), cost of supplies (which varies monthly between $2,000 and $4,000), and payments for utilities (which also varies monthly between $2,000 and $4,000).
As a proprietor, one has independence in handling the financial affairs of the school. Having this autonomy over the finances of the school could easily lead to mismanagement. This can be curtailed if you and the school’s Board of Trustees establish functional fiscal policies to guide spending.
Drawing up a budget should be your first fiscal plan, also draw up a cash flow projection and have these vetted by the members of the Board. The budget should cover all that is needed for setting up the school which includes salaries and facilities.
What Facilities do you need for your Charter School?
As a school, the most needed facilities are classrooms. Teachers and students need a place within which studies can go on conveniently. The classrooms should have comfortable reading chairs and tables for both teachers and students.
Playgrounds or play-areas should also be made available for the kids. Teaching tools and equipment should be purchased and made available. It should be ensured that restrooms are close-by and tidy at all times.
Draw up other facilities which you feel are necessary to achieve the set goals depending on the mission and vision of your school.
Funding your Charter School
Funding is a basic necessity for any business, including charter schools. Without funding there would be no money to execute plans made. And if plans are not executable, then everything stalls. It is therefore quite important to generate funding using multiple possible ways. Obtaining loans or grants is one option, seeking for investors is another, and yet another involves fundraising ceremonies. To obtain funds, it is very important to build sturdy relationships by solidifying the credibility of your charter school in the minds of people within the local community of the school.
The bulk of the money that a charter school makes comes from the public funds of their state but the school may also receive grants and subsidies from various federal programs.
You should be able to build and foster relationships, through good relationships you may be able to get information on applications for grants and loans. Building relationships and trust is also helpful for hosting an all-inclusive fundraising event within which people and local businesses who value your mission will render funds to help support the institution.
Starting a charter school is not just any other task, it is one which involves meticulous and proper research before beginning. The information above gives a basic overview of how to start your own charter school.
Good luck as you begin this journey of making our educational experience a better one. If you need further clarification on these processes, please do not hesitate to use the comment section below or contact us.
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