SO YOU WANT TO START A CHARTER SCHOOL….“Five Mistakes That Can Place Your Charter In The DO NOT APPROVE Zone”

by Atlanta Small Biz Esquire

So….You have your vision, you’ve done some research, recruited your founding board,  you are sure of your theme, and you think now you know all you need to submit that charter school application???

Since the first U.S. charter schools opened their doors, thousands of charter schools have closed less than 5 years after opening and hundreds have been dissolved and absorbed back into the school district. Many more are never granted a charter to begin with. We understand what charter authorizers are looking for in your charter school application. We know what a successful charter looks like on paper, and work to help you put those principles into practice.

 Here are five mistakes that can put a charter application into the “Do Not Approve” zone:

  1.  Faulty board composition – The make-up of the initial founding board in many instances consist of personal associates and close personal friends of the primary founder who are not clear about the level of commitment needed to start and preserve a charter school, and many lack the needed skills and ties to the community that can thrust a charter forward.  With the IVS “Board Basic Training” Package,  you will acquire the skills you need to identify and put together a savvy group of board members with expertise in a variety of areas who will work to understand the charters mission and work hard to meet its goals and objectives.
  2. Not having a clear plan to conduct the leadership of an academic program –  The charter school leadership teams needs to be equipped to develop an academic plan with a concise, reliable method to measure and evaluate academic performance. At the end of the day, the charter school must be able to show the outcomes and the impact of the work that has been accomplished.  The IVS “New Charter Boot Camp” can prepare board members, the school’s faculty, staff, and community partners with the knowledge and expertise needed to start and maintain a successful charter.
  3. The lack of previous governance experience  This can become an obstacle for a newly developed charter school.  Many initial founding boards run into problems because no one has the governing and management experience needed to move the school forward. It is very important to have someone with governing skills on the board, and to have school leadership ready to devote the time and ambition to learn the skills needed to govern. IVS can provide the resources you need through our Charter Training series.
  4. Misjudging the amount of fundraising that needs to happen and the board’s role in it– Almost all charter schools need to raise a substantial amount of private monies to supplement public and state funds that are allocated for each student the school serves.  Board members need to understand that raising funds is an ongoing obligation. Fundraising is required to support each initiative of the school’s mission, including: the charter’s facility, transportation, sports, field trips, tutoring, after school programs and summer camps.  Didn’t anticipate the costs?  Well that can be a fatal error. The costs can seem astronomical if you aren’t prepared for them, and these extra-curricular initiatives and educational extras need to have financial support from somewhere.  We’ll make sure you don’t forget a line item with our “Charter Biz Plan in a Box”.
  5. The absence of perseverance – Not working relentlessly the first few years to sustain your charter could have a “closed for business” sign on your school’s doors. You only have one chance to show sustainability and that you charter is an institution that promotes academic success. But if you find the charter is struggling, IVS is there to support you with our “Troubled Charter 911” package. The skills gained to revive your charter are what you need if it looks like you are on the path to becoming one of the thousands of failed charters.

We look forward to hearing from those of you who are pondering starting a charter school.  For more information on the Charter School Training series and a variety of other business packages, visit our website at