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I'm Dr. Jeannie Gudith, Founder and CEO of JAG Consulting. We help you develop, improve, buy or sell your private school.
Starting a private school can be a challenging venture. Before opening your school, you need to gather sound data and make sure you have a solid set of strategies and a budget to be able to launch your school successfully. In this article, learn the basics and the time-tested rules of starting a private school.
The first thing you need to think of is your target. Determine the type of school your market needs. Does your target needs K-8, 9-12, boarding, online, or Montessori? By identifying your niche, you’ll be able to narrow down your priorities and keep your focus on the crucial tasks.
In this stage, it’s also important to decide the number of grades your school will start off with. A K-12 school would naturally be a goal for your long-range plans, but it’s better to start small and grow gradually – slowly, but surely. Establishing your primary grades served first is important and then, over time, you can add the other grades. A popular way to start is with grades K-5, and after one to two years add 6-8, and then eventually adding on high school. However, if you are starting an online school you can easily begin with a K-12 or K-8 school as there are no brick and mortar restrictions.
Assign the important preliminary work to a small trusted committee. Members of this committee could include educators, parents, or a private school consultant with legal, financial, management, and development experience in the field. This committee could also be the beginning of your board.
There are two approaches to finding school space; locate a building for your school or locate property to build your facility from scratch. Keep in mind though that building from scratch would naturally be much more expensive and time-consuming. Another alternative is to look for space you can lease from a church or after school program. This will reduce the beginning overhead costs and allow you to grow gradually. If you plan on opening up an online school, look for space for your administrative team as a home base for your school.
Develop a five-year long business plan. With this plan, you can set clear goals and improve your management over the first five years of your school. Make sure that your plan complements your funds to set realistic goals and achieve a blueprint that will attract donors to the cause that your school promotes. You can also hire a private school consulting firm to this for you.
Allocate a budget for the first five years of your school. Have your financial committee prepare a conservative projected profit and loss statement for the first year. It’s also advisable to develop two budgets: a capital budget and an operating budget. For example, building an arts facility falls on the capital budget while expenses for payroll taxes falls on the operating budget. Most importantly, make sure you prepare budget leeway in case expenses are higher than anticipated.
You should advertise your school all year around and have a larger budget during the months of January through March as this is peak enrollment time. You can market by doing webinar presentations, advertising your website, or setting up a mailing list to keep students, parents, and potential families interested. Additionally, you can also hire a marketing expert to do this crucial task for you.
Prepare your school’s opening day and make sure it is well-organized. Start by welcoming your students and acknowledging parents at the morning assembly. After your soft opening, proceed to classes. Invest in the quality of education your school provides by focusing on teacher training and the rest will follow.
Developing a private school requires years of planning, experience, and funding, and it’s something that you need to build with your team. To ensure the success of your school, organize your business plan with a private school consultant that offers high-quality educational consulting services. Working with experts will make the job so much easier.