Starting a private school is a lengthy, complicated process. Fortunately for you plenty of folks have done the same thing you are thinking of doing. You will find much inspiration and practical advice from their examples.
In fact, you will find it extremely useful browsing the history section of any established private school’s website. Some of these stories will inspire you. Others will remind you that starting a school takes lots of time, money and support.
If you are an entrepreneur with a background in education, you might want to consider establishing a school.
The probability of success is good because you will be drawing inspiration and technique from your own expertise, and also because it is something you will enjoy doing; therefore, you will be more likely to sustain the business than someone who is just in it for the money.
Furthermore, schools are always in demand and the tax outlook is good. There is however a preliminary consideration: Should you put up a school or a training center? What is the difference between them anyway?
Here is a timeline for the tasks involved with starting your own private school.
36-24 Months before opening: Identify Your Niche – Determine what kind of school the local market needs. Ask parents and teachers for their opinions. If you can afford it, hire a marketing company to do a survey. It will help you focus your efforts. Once you determine what kind of school you will be opening, then decide how many grades will actually open the school.
24 months : Form a Committee – Form a small committee of talented supporters to begin the preliminary work. Include parents with financial, legal, management and building experience. Ask for and get a commitment of time and financial support from each member. This important planning work which will demand much time and energy. These people can become the core of your first board of directors.
18 months: Incorporate – File incorporation papers. The lawyer on your committee should be able to handle this for you. There are costs associated with the filing, but he should donate his legal services to the cause. This is a critical step in your long term fund raising. People will give money much more readily to a legal entity or institution as opposed to a person. If you have already decided to establish your own proprietary school, you will be on your own when it comes to raising money.
18 months: Develop a Business Plan – Develop a business plan. This should be a blue print of how the school is going to operate over its first five years. Always be conservative in your projections. Do not try to do everything in the first five years unless you have been lucky enough to find a donor to fund the program in its entirety.
18 months: Develop a Budget – Develop a budget for 5 years. This is the detailed look at income and expenses. The financial person on your committee should be responsible for developing this critical document. As always project your assumptions conservatively and factor in some wriggle room should things go wrong.
20 months: Find a Home – Locate a facility to house the school or develop building plans if you will be creating your own facility from scratch. Your architect and contractor committee members should spearhead this assignment.
16 months: Choose Key Staff Members – Identify your Head of School and your Business Manager. Conduct your search as widely as possible. Write job descriptions for these and all your staff and faculty positions. You will be looking for self-starters who enjoy building something from scratch.
14 months: Solicit Contributions – Secure your initial funding – donors and subscriptions. You will need to plan your campaign carefully so that you can build momentum, yet are able to keep pace with actual funding needs.
14 months: Identify Your Faculty Requirements – It is critical to attract skilled faculty. Do so by agreeing on competitive compensation. Sell them on the vision of your new school. The chance to shape something is always appealing. While it is still over a year until you open, line up as many faculty as you can. Do not leave this important job until the last minute.
14 months: Spread the Word – Advertise for students. Promote the new school through service club presentations and other community groups. Design a website and set up a mailing list to keep interested parents and donors in touch with your progress.
9 months: Open for Business – Open the school office and begin admissions interviews and tours of your facilities. January before a fall opening is the latest you can do this. Ordering instructional materials, planning curricula and devising a master timetable are just some of the tasks your professionals will have to attend to.
1 month: Orient and Train Your Faculty – Have faculty in place to get school ready for opening. The first year at a new school requires endless meetings and planning sessions for the academic staff. Get your teachers on the job ahead of time in order to be prepared for opening day.
Opening Day – Make this a soft opening at which you welcome your students and any interested parents at a brief assembly. Then off to classes. Teaching is what your school will be known for. It needs to begin promptly on Day 1.
Stay Informed – Join national and state private school associations. You will find incomparable resources. The networking opportunities for you and your staff are virtually limitless. Plan on attending association conferences in year 1 so that your school is visible. That will ensure plenty of applications for vacant positions in the following academic year.
Setting Up the School
Basically, a school is an organized space for learning, approved and monitored by the relevant government agencies, and situated in certain select locations. A school follows a curriculum and staffing pattern set by the Department of Education or Commission on Higher Education.
Elementary and high schools— which should probably be your starting point, as it would be too complicated to venture into higher education right away—are staff ed by a principal and teachers who must all be licensed educators (that is, board passers).
The principal must have a Master’s degree in education. The following personnel are also mandatory: school administrator, administrative staff , head teacher, librarian, nurse, security guards, maintenance people, and cafeteria staff .
2. Build it up
Should you decide to open a school, it would be less-capital intensive if you first start with a preschool and then gradually expand to the grade levels at the rate of two or three grades per year.
Or, you could just stay at the preschool levels forever. It really all depends on your personal preference. For school space, you could either lease or purchase property in a safe neighborhood, or if you already have one of your own, just confirm that it is situated in a safe area and you’re good to go.
3. Requirements. You will need to obtain the following:
- Clearance from the Homeowners’ Association in the neighborhood where your school will be located.
- Barangay clearance from the barangay where the school will be situated.
- Registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). To comply with SEC requirements, your school must have a board of trustees and officers such as president and vice president.
- Registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
- Mayor’s permit from the local government unit where your school will be located.
- Permit to operate from the Department of Education (DepEd).
4. Safety issues
To obtain the DepEd permit, you will have to prove that your school is a safe structure built of strong materials; has fire escapes, a fire alarm, and fire extinguishers on every floor and in every room and corner; has good ventilation and spacious classrooms as well as clean toilets; has a playground or athletic field and a gym or auditorium hall; has a clinic, a library, a laboratory, a computer room, and a dining hall or cafeteria; and administration offices with a separate teachers’ lounge.
5. Year-round operation
As you already know, you will have to operate your school year-round. There are four quarters in a school year, which runs from June to March, but even during the summer and vacation months of April and May, your staff will have to be paid and the school will have to remain open for summer classes, if any.
sources and authors: Robert Kennedy of privateschool.about.com, Jason Confesor of entrepreneur.com.ph, photo from lubbockareafoundation.org