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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Updated October 11, 2016 |
Understanding Enrollment Agreements
Attorney Sara Goldsmith Schwartz answers my questions and provides some general guidance regarding best practices for enrollment agreements.

Editor's note: 

I asked Attorney Sara Goldsmith Schwartz, whose "practice is focused on the critical issues facing school administrators and leadership," to answer my questions and provide some general guidance regarding best practices for enrollment agreements. This article is intended for the information of owners, administrators, and trustees of small to medium size private schools. ~ Rob Kennedy

The relationship between parents, students and the school is determined by contract law. Can you tell us what that means?
 
The relationship between parents, students, and the school is based on a lot of documents, including the student/parent handbook, the code of conduct, the enrollment agreement and more.  The enrollment agreement, however, is the only legal contract, and it memorializes the relationship between the parents, students, and the school, binding the parties to the terms and conditions laid out in the agreement.  The agreement assists schools in collecting tuition and fees in cases of non-payment and in assessing late fees in cases of late payment. However, a comprehensive agreement addresses far more than tuition and fees.

This short clip explains why contracts are important legal documents.

 

How can a professionally written enrollment agreement prevent litigation in the future?
 
A properly drafted enrollment agreement is a cornerstone of a school’s risk management strategy.  For instance, it can help deter parents from bringing claims against the school, as well as help the school prevail on such claims.
 
An enrollment agreement that comports with best practices and applicable

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Interviewing the Over-prepared Teacher Applicant
Some applicants can fool you when they interview. Here is some advice on how to prevent that while at the same time keeping the interview process simple and efficient.
I have been interviewing applicants for employment for many years now. I used to be fooled by a certain type of applicant who presented extremely well at the interview. Unfortunately a few months after hiring the applicant, things did not go as well as we had hoped. With my experiences in mind and knowing that many of you are operating your schools with very small staffs and also knowing that you do not do many teacher interviews in any given year, let's look at a couple of simple ways which will protect you from hiring a teacher who is not a good fit.
 
How not to be fooled
 
"First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes." Elliott Abrams
 
I agree wholeheartedly with Elliott Abrams. You and I are accustomed to sizing people up in a very short time. Essentially we are using the same skill set which we use in the classroom. As we teach, we are constantly assessing how our students are absorbing and understanding the material, right? We have honed that skill set very finely. So bring it into play when you first meet an applicant.
 
Trust your instincts
 
You have to trust your instincts and your experience when you are interviewing teachers for your school. I put that at the top of my list for interviewing anybody, but even more so when interviewing teachers. Something on a resume or an answer to one of your questions might trigger a doubt
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Updated November 09, 2016 |
How sustainable is your school and its business model? We examine some of the elements of a sustainable school.
How sustainable is your school? This article is written with small to medium-sized schools in mind. Larger schools are able to plan and use professional resources of all kinds in order to ensure their sustainability for the future. On the other hand small schools typically have limited resources to begin with. So with this in mind I want to look at three aspects of how your school runs and offer some suggestions as to how we can make sure it will be running for many years to come. In other words let’s make sure that your school is sustainable and will continue to be sustainable for many more years.
 
We are going to look at two types of day schools: for profit schools and not for profit schools. A large number of primary schools are what we would describe as for profit schools. These are the kinds of schools which a well-intentioned, visionary educator has established because she believes in a certain style of teaching and wants to reach certain kind of clientele in her local area. I use the description of well-intentioned advisedly because many of these wonderful people have great pedagogical ideas but lack the business experience to make their school become an ongoing reality. Here are some practical steps that the owner of a small primary school to take to make sure that her school stays viable.
 
Develop a business plan
 
When you started your school, you knew that it was not enough to simply think that you could
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Updated June 14, 2016 |
From the School's Perspective: Is Accreditation Necessary?
Becoming accredited involves a rigorous process of internal self-evaluation and external review. Is it worth it?
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
 
. . .read more
Updated May 26, 2016 |
Starting a Private School
Thinking about starting your own school? Here's an outline of what's involved.
Who in their right mind starts a private school? Starting any enterprise is a daunting project. Yet many parents and teachers are the impetus behind the dozen or so new private schools which appear on the scene each fall. Some schools begin modestly with a grade or two and grow by adding one grade a year. Other schools have much more elaborate plans. Why do these brave parents and teachers start a school? The main reason seems to be that they are passionate about teaching a certain way or adhering to a certain philosophy. Sometimes they do it simply because they 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, although there are many ingredients. Staring a school requires equal parts persistence, business acumen and vast amounts of 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.

This video offers an overview of starting a nonprofit organization like your school.

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.
 
36 months before your projected opening date
 
Most school academic years begin in the fall.
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