Administrative

Here you'll find information on the administrative side of running a private school. We'll cover strategic plan development, state regulations, human resources and school safety. Learn more about the obstacles of taking over a struggling school, get tips on hiring a headmaster, and receive expert advice on dealing with bad press.
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I believe that accreditation is necessary for any educational institution. Simply put, accreditation is to a school or college what an academic diploma or degree is to an individual. That objective stamp of approval is earned by meeting a prescribed set of standards. The assessment of whether the school has met those standards is made by independent members of the accrediting organization. 
 

Why is accreditation necessary for a school? Because it confirms that the school is committed to obtaining the best possible outcomes for its students. Parents want to know that they are making the right decision in choosing a private school for their children. Accreditation reassures parents that the school's programs have been evaluated and have met the standards required for accreditation.
 

Accreditation is typically administered by regional associations which have specific areas of the country under their purview.
 
 
Here is a list of the associations together with the states and areas which they cover:
 
Covers: MSA: Washington DC, Delaware,  Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Overseas
 
Covers: Utah, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Montana and Costa Rica
 
Covers: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming
 
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Who in their right mind starts a private school? Parents and teachers do. Why do they start a school? Because they are passionate about teaching a certain way or adhering to a certain philosophy or sometimes because they simply want to run their own school and do things their way.

No matter what the genesis of the idea might be, the recipe for bringing a school into existence is straight-forward enough. It requires equal parts persistence, business acumen and patience. To those basic ingredients you add huge lashings of money. Mix thoroughly. As you do, you discover that you will have to add more money regularly as the other ingredients soak up gobs of money.

Here is a template for planning and opening your own school. Good luck! I did it. Lived through the experience. I still recall it as one of the best things I ever did.

24 months before your projected opening date
Most school academic years begin in September or thereabouts. So you want to start the project at least 2 years out. You may need an extra year or two. The size and scope of the project and the funding resources at your disposal will determine how early you should start.

Determine what kind of school the local market needs. You may know what you want. But does the market affirm your vision of the kind of school you are planning?

18-24 months
Form a small steering committee of talented...
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Most of us like to start a project and see it through from start to finish. Signing on to run a going concern is a pretty safe bet too. But what about tackling something which is going to make enormous demands on your abilities, energy and experience but which has a lot of risk? Such as taking over a struggling school?

Actually, taking over anything which is struggling entails a lot of risk. Anyway, you have talent and experience. So let's examine what's involved in investigating a head of school position in a struggling school before you sign on.

First of all, let's agree to define the struggling school as a school which is having financial difficulties. Once you understand that you are going to have to do some very heavy lifting raising money, that will help you focus on what has to be done. The truth is that most struggling schools didn't arrive in their present condition overnight. This is train wreck which the previous head of school and the board saw coming for several years before now.

Let's look at some of the reasons why a school finds itself facing difficult times.

 

  1. Its business model is flawed.
  2. It didn't market itself effectively.
  3. It wasn't managed properly.
  4. It didn't invest in the future.

 


These four reasons cover most of the more common situations. But there are others.

When you interview for the position, be sure to ask tough questions of the board. Was it a matter of the...
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"Popular teacher murdered"
"Accusations of sex abuse at prestigious private school"
"Lavish expenditures on headmaster's house renovations"

These are examples of incidents which have actually taken place at private schools.

It's a headmaster's worst nightmare to read a story about something which happened at his school.
It's a parent's worst nightmare to read a story about something which happened in the school her children are attending.
It's a teacher's worst nightmare to be in the midst of the maelstrom which is the evolving story with all its investigations.

The Headmaster
21st century heads of school know that they cannot simply circle the wagons and deny the existence of the story. A couple of decades ago when communications such as Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs and smartphones didn't exist, the fortress mentality was how many heads handled bad press. You expelled a few students, fired some staff and hopefully the matter was put to rest permanently. Not any more.

Now when bad press appears, it takes on a life of its own. It is bad enough to see a column or two in a respected national journal such as the New York Times or the Washington Post, but an article which is continued on several pages? Well, that's pretty serious stuff. Stonewalling, in any form, will not do. The 21st century version of stonewalling is the spin a good public relations agent can and should put on a tough story. But "No comment" will not work either....
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Bullying has been part of our lives since time began. Bullying goes by different names and takes several different forms. But whether you call it intimidation or threatening, whether you do it verbally or simply with your body language, bullying is upsetting and unnerving behavior. Fortunately it is completely unacceptable in most private schools.

So, where does cyberbullying fit in? Cyberbullying or bullying done electronically is extremely difficult for adults to detect. The reason why is that cyberbullying lurks in the virtual shadows created by Facebook and cellphones. Unless you are a fan of somebody and can monitor their Facebook account or have access to their cellphone, you cannot definitively prove that cyberbullying is actually happening.

The Forms of Cyberbullying

Sexting
Sexting is the texting of sexually explicit messages or transmitting sexually explicit photos via cellphone. The problem with all these electronic forms of bullying is that once they are transmitted they are archived on a server or servers somewhere in cyberspace. Put another way, if you send a nude photograph of yourself to a lover via your cellphone, how do you know that it hasn't been forwarded to somebody else. What if you have a fight with that lover and he decides to take revenge. Well, it's not a pretty picture.

Teens, and girls in particular, seem to be more susceptible to this form of bullying. That's because they take cellphones and other forms of electronic communication for granted. Many girls feel that sexting...
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