Starting a private school is a challenging and time-intensive project. The rewards are knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of children and families. Don't expect to make much money from running a private school, just aim to provide an excellent education for your students. You can start a private school in 2 to 3 years as long as you have supporters dedicated to the project.
- Skill level:
Gather supporters and identify your educational niche. Your group should include a lawyer, an accountant, educators and parents. They need to commit to sticking with the project for the two years it will take to reach opening day. Their first task is to narrow your educational niche. Options include grade school to middle school, high school only, complete K through 12 school, Montessori and special needs.
Take care of business and legal matters. The attorney in your group should take care of filling for incorporation and your 501(c)(3) tax exemption. The accountant should work with the group to establish a start-up budget. You should all work together to develop a 5-year business plan for your private school.
Choose a location and hire key employees. Once the legal matters have been taken care of you need to hire a school director or headmaster and a business office manager. The group should write detailed job descriptions for these positions. These key staff members should be in place 18 months before opening day and will work closely with the group the rest of the way.
Raise funds and advertise for students. No later than one year from opening day, start making presentations to community groups and service clubs to find parents of potential students and donors for your private school. Maintain a website and start regular mail and email promotions.
Enroll students. Your facility should be open and ready for admissions, interviews and tours no later than nine months before opening day.
Hire and train faculty. Sell potential hires on your mission and vision. Offer competitive wages to attract the most talented professionals. Faculty needs to be in place at least one month before opening day.
Open the doors and start school. Look into joining state or national private school associations that can provide accreditation and recognition.
Tips and warnings
- Be realistic with your budget. Often private schools have "angel" investors footing the bill for start-up. Even if this is the case, always budget as if you have less money than is available.
- Create your mission statement and define your core values at the very beginning. Potential donors and parents will want to read them.