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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.
Private schools currently make up approximately 25 percent of schools in the United States and serve roughly 5.7 million students.
Setting up a private school can be a lucrative business venture. However, it can also be a challenging and time-consuming project.
If you’re interested in starting a high-standard private school, keep reading. Outlined below is a timeline to help you accomplish your goal.
Your school won’t be able to serve every community and age group, at least not at first. That’s why identifying your niche is the first step to setting up a great private school.
About 25-35 months before your target opening date, ask yourself what age group you want to serve. Do you want to run a preschool? A K-12 day school? A boarding school?
If you’re not sure, consider what the students and parents in your area need the most. Then, think about the type of school that will fulfill that need.
The best schools don’t start with one person. They start with several great minds working together synergistically.
Forming a committee will help you with your mission and give you a chance to learn from others, including lawyers, accountants, and professionals in the education field. This helps you to identify gaps in your private school plan and establish a school that best serves the population you want to help.
About 18 months before your scheduled opening date, look into getting your school accredited. Accreditation adds credibility and will make your school more attractive to parents and potential students.
Do some research to find out what’s required to become an accredited institution in your country or region. Work with your lawyer to ensure you file the proper paperwork and handle everything correctly, too.
At the same time that you’re seeking accreditation, start developing a business plan.
That’s right, you need to run your private school like you would a business. This helps you to make it sustainable and allows you to serve as many students as possible.
Your business plan will provide a blueprint that breaks down how you will operate the school during its first 5 years.
You should start thinking about expansion strategies for after that initial 5-year period, too. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul, so you don’t need to try to do everything right from the start.
One of the most important parts of your business plan is your 5-year budget. This should provide a detailed and realistic breakdown of your school’s projected income and expenses.
The accountant on your committee can help you with this step so you don’t ignore any crucial pieces of information.
About 12 months before your school is set to open, you’ll need to find a facility to house your students.
Look for a building that will appeal to your target students and, more importantly, their parents. This might be a historic building that is still in good shape and needs minor renovations, or perhaps it’s a brand new, modern building with the latest amenities.
About a year before opening, you’ll also need to apply for tax-exempt status in your country or region. Being a tax-exempt organization will help with fundraising efforts and legitimize your school.
Work with your lawyer and accountant so this step gets handled correctly.
Next, you’ll need to find someone to be your school’s headteacher and your business manager. These people will be invaluable assets to your school, and you need to recruit the most qualified individuals possible.
Write detailed job descriptions and post them on a variety of job sites. You may want to work with a recruitment agency, too, for help setting up interviews and finding the right person for each job.
At this point, you’ll have about 10 months left before your school opens. Now is the time to secure initial funding from donors and the parents of future students.
Start working on your pitch to investors and donors. This will help them to understand your vision and get them committed to supporting your cause and donating to your school.
Now is also a good time to identify your school’s staff requirements.
How many teachers and other staff will you need? What kind of qualifications and experience do you want them to have? How much will you pay them?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start writing and publishing job listings to fill these positions.
Around 8 months before opening your school, start advertising it to stakeholders.
Look for opportunities to promote the school on TV, the radio, or in newspapers. You can also use social media to share your school’s website and get people interested in your cause.
Set up an email list, too, so you can stay in touch with parents of future students and potential donors.
About 5 months before opening, you should be ready to open your school’s office.
At this point, you can start the admissions process, begin interviewing potential students and parents, and give tours. You should also start ordering instructional materials and planning curricula.
At least 2 months before opening, you should have all your teachers selected. You should also host an orientation and planning meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page, knows what’s expected of them, and is prepared for the school’s opening day.
The big opening of your school should be fun and light-hearted.
Plan a brief assembly for new students and their parents to welcome them to the school, reiterate your mission, and thank them for trusting you. Then, it’s off to classes!
Be sure to join your country or region’s national or private school associations after opening. This will provide you with high-quality resources and networking opportunities.
Attend association conferences, too. This helps you and your staff to continue learning. It also helps your school gain prominence, which will make it easier for you to attract more teachers and qualified staff in the future.
As you can see, setting up a private school is a lengthy process. If you follow these steps, though, you will be able to get a high-standard private school up and running in most locations in less than 3 years.