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A Christian school is a fantastic way to minister to families in your community and influence children for Christ. As with most new endeavors, starting a Christian school requires research, preparation, and planning. Here are some specific areas to consider as you get started.

Take the First Steps

Pray.

Seek guidance from the Lord, especially when you determine your philosophy of education and establish your purpose. Pray that God will help you find the right leadership and the right teachers, and that He’ll give you wisdom and discernment.

Psalm 127:1—Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Decide on your philosophy of education.

Your philosophy of education determines how your school operates academically—both what content you teach and how you teach it. By adopting a clear philosophy of education, your school can maintain a consistent, reliable standard for teaching and learning regardless of your size or your faculty’s experience level.

Because you’re beginning a Christian school, we recommend the traditional philosophy of education. It has been used to successfully educate children academically and spiritually for generations, training them in Christian character and teaching them to be articulate and knowledgeable. Traditional education is based on America’s educational heritage and supports biblical beliefs such as accountability, respect for authority, and godly character.

Hire your principal or administrator.

Recruit a principal/administrator who has demonstrated leadership and organizational skills. They’ll have a huge influence over the faculty, staff, and direction of your school as a whole, so it’s essential that the person you hire embrace your philosophy of education.

Everything rises and falls on leadership.

Articulate your mission.

Be able to describe your reason for existence in a mission or purpose statement. For example, your purpose may be to teach academics from a Christian perspective, to reach young souls for Christ, to train future servants in the Lord’s work, or to do all of the above! Whatever you have in mind, express it clearly in your mission statement and refer to it often, especially when engaging parents and faculty.

Determine whether enrollment will be open or closed.

Open enrollment means that children without a specific church affiliation may attend. More importantly, an open enrollment school reaches unsaved students and parents for the Lord. Sharing the gospel with children and families who otherwise may never have heard it is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of the Christian school ministry.

Closed enrollment means that only children of families with a profession of faith who are members of a specific church affiliation may attend.

Establish your standards.

As you start your school, resolve to give parents confidence that their children will receive an exceptional education both spiritually and academically. Commit to presenting a superior program that gives your students the education they need in both areas.

Standards in dress and behavior are integral to maintaining a distinctive Christian school environment. Write your standards down and distribute them to both students and parents so that everyone understands what’s expected. When everyone knows your standards, you’ll be better prepared to implement them.

Proverbs 22:6—Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Investigate local and state laws.

Research construction and use codes for schools in your state. Check with your state’s Christian school organization to find out how to conform to local and state laws. If you plan to use classrooms in your church or another existing building, you may already be in compliance.

Your state’s Christian school organization may also be able to provide information on state requirements for private schools, such as student-teacher ratios, faculty qualifications, and background-check requirements.

Evaluate facilities and furnishings.

As mentioned above, you may choose to use your current church classrooms. Other options are to lease space from another church, purchase a public school building no longer in use, or purchase/lease portable classroom units.

Once you’ve decided where to meet, think about the furniture and equipment that will be available. Then decide what you’ll need to purchase to get your school off the ground.

Build on Your Foundation

Estimate probable enrollments.

Before moving forward, you need an idea of your expected initial enrollment. Many new schools estimate the number of students by conducting an interest poll among their congregation and other related ministries. A majority of your students will probably come from your church membership, at least initially.

The number of families interested in enrolling their children will give you a good starting point for how many students you’ll have. The age range of potential students will also tell you what grades to offer. Don’t feel you have to offer every grade in the beginning. Christian schools can successfully launch with one to four grades (K5–3rd grade). In the beginning, two grades may even be combined and taught by one teacher. Be careful not to take on too many grades too soon. Start small and grow wisely. And keep in mind that video instruction like ProTeach can be an option when you have only a few students enrolling or have difficulty finding the right staff for more challenging subjects.

Whether you have six students or sixty in your first year, organize your school so your students will receive godly character development and solid academic training.

Address financial matters.

Now that you have an idea of how many students will enroll, you can start creating a budget. Account for staff and faculty’s salary and benefits, curriculum and supply costs, utilities, and advertising.

As a start-up school, you’ll need items such as curriculum, lesson plans, teaching aids, desks, and tables. You’ll also need semi-permanent supplies like chalkboards, whiteboards, and possibly classroom technology. Since you will have to purchase many of these items before you receive the first tuition check, consider holding fundraisers, using your church’s savings account, soliciting donations from sponsors, or taking a collection from churches that are participating in starting the school.

Philippians 4:19—But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Choose your curriculum.

Many parents will send their children to your school because they want them to be educated with a Christian worldview. Others will choose your school because they prefer private schooling to public schooling. Regardless of their primary reason for choosing you, parents will expect academic excellence.

The right curriculum can help you achieve excellence in the classroom. Look for a comprehensive curriculum written from a Christian worldview that will enable teachers at any experience level to excel. Choose engaging textbooks, high-quality materials, and day-by-day lesson plans that prepare teachers for the classroom.

Get Ready to Open

Hire your faculty and staff.

If you’re planning to follow a traditional school calendar (August through May), start planning how many faculty and staff personnel your school will need in January.

Estimate the number of teachers to hire based on the enrollment you project from the interest poll you conducted, as well as any additional enrollments you receive. Start talking to potential teachers early (February or March is a good time) so you can obtain commitments before teachers make other plans for the coming school year. You can often find qualified teachers familiar with a Christian school environment, or you can recruit teachers directly from Christian colleges. Be sure to stay in contact with potential candidates as you confirm your school enrollment, then make your job offers when expected enrollment supports the hire.

1 Thessalonians 5:24—Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.

Attract enrollments.

A key factor in attracting enrollments is a professional-looking website. It tells parents what they want to know about your school and leaves a positive impression. Use it to explain how your school is different from public schools, private schools, and other Christian schools. Highlight why parents should want to be a part of this new school venture by showing the benefits of your school and explaining how they and their children will be better off there.

You’ll also want to create a flyer and/or a brochure to help promote your school. These can be mailed, distributed door-to-door, and displayed in prominent public places. For example, make them available in your church lobby or in church members’ places of business.

Always follow up with parents interested in enrolling their children, including those from your church. It’s best to start promoting as early as March and no later than May. Other Christian and private schools will also be advertising during this time, so work to get the word out about your school and get students enrolled.

Set your calendar.

Determine your start date, and then count out the number of school days required by your state. Factor in holidays, Christmas vacation, spring break, and any other days that classes will not be held. For the best start to your school year, include a kick-off meeting for staff and an orientation/open house for new students and their parents.

Stay Faithful

Stay Faithful

If God has laid it on your heart to start a Christian school, please know that we’re here to help. But most importantly, know this:

You can do it.

Philippians 4:13—I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Starting a Christian school requires considerable effort, but the rewards are eternal. Prepare as much as you can, pray, and take wise steps as you work toward your goals. Above all, be faithful to what God has called you to do, and leave the results to Him.