How to Establish a Private School

Private schools are known for their smaller classes.
Private schools are known for their smaller classes. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Private schools are independent educational institutions that don't receive government funding. Instead, their main revenue sources are fundraising and student tuition fees. Private schools charge higher tuition than public ones. However, they generally have smaller class sizes than public schools. According to the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission, it takes a year or more of planning, preparation and groundwork to open a private school.

Form a committee of educators, parents, administrators, lawyers, accountants and community leaders. Hold regular meetings to share ideas and develop an actionable plan for the private school. Divide the committee into subcommittees, each group developing a plan in areas such as finance, administration, employment and advertising.

Incorporate the school as a not-for-profit business by applying for federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, using IRS Form 1023. Your lawyer also must file an incorporation application at your secretary of state's office. Register the school with your state's department of education.

Organize fundraising campaigns. Private companies, nongovernmental foundations and charity organizations often donate money to not-for-profit private schools. Organize social and community events and periodic campaigns to collect funds.

Find a location suitable to open the school. Contact your state's department of education for building code requirements. In California, you must comply with the Private Schools Building Safety Act of 1986.

Write a five-year business plan detailing the school's mission, long-term goals and budget. Include projected expenses such as salaries, equipment, utilities and transportation.

Hire faculty and administrators. Many of the school's committee members will be a good fit for these positions. Advertise jobs for office staff and licensed teachers. You can hire the most necessary staff in the first phase and bring on additional staff later, depending on the number of students who enroll.

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