Opening a private school in North Carolina is not only a good business proposition, it also offers an opportunity to provide an individualized curriculum that benefits children, parents and teachers. It may sound daunting, but the benefits of providing children with a good education and facilitating a better interaction between parents and teachers outweighs the challenges of opening a private school. A private school can be a religious school, a not-for-profit school or a non-denominational business. Privates schools in North Carolina are governed by the North Carolina General Statutes Article 39, Chapter 115 C. All private schools must conform to the Constitution of the United States and of North Carolina. The statutes specify the attendance, health and safety regulations and standardized testing requirements. All private schools that adhere to these are not subject to other educational provisions other than meeting the requirements for fire safety, sanitation and immunization. (See References 1 and 2)

Planning

Draw up a business plan. The business plan should detail the reason behind starting the school, what type of school it will be, whether through grade school or high school, its objectives, how to meet these objectives and the number of students the school is taking in for the first year. It should include the projected start-up budget and profit and identify the source of funding and how to secure the funds.

Find a location. Research the area prior to choosing the location for the school. Find out how many children are of school age and if there are other private schools in the area. Check out their reputation and know what their strengths and weaknesses are. This will give you an idea if your plan to open a private school in that location is viable.

Secure funding for the school. You can secure funds by applying for a bank loan or by bringing investors in. If you are personally funding the initial expenses for starting a school, ensure that you have the funds to cover your projected budget and extra funds to cover overspending.

Meeting Statutory Requirements

Call the local building inspector's office for a building inspection. All classes, up to and including second grade, are required to be on the ground floor. The North Carolina statutes do not require a non-public school to pass the building inspection before classes begin, but it is highly recommended that all inspections are successfully completed for the protection of the students, teachers and governing body. The statutes do not detail the type of building that can be used or the location. (See References 1 and 2)

Request a fire inspection from the local Fire Marshal's Office. A fire inspector will check that the building meets fire safety requirements. Using the North Carolina Non-Public School Fire Inspection Preparation Checklist as your guide, get the building ready for fire inspection. Make sure that you remove any fire hazards and check that all fire detection equipment is installed. (See Reference 1)

Using the North Carolina Non-Public School Sanitation Inspection Preparation Checklist, get the building ready for a school sanitation inspection. Ensure that you have a clean water supply and waste disposal units. Toilets should be functioning and dressing rooms in good order. (See Reference 1)

Request an "initial courtesy inspection" from the county Health Department's School Sanitation. The sanitation officer will conduct the initial "walk through" and will issue the administrator with an Inspection of School Form that is partially completed. The sanitation inspector will come back at a later date unannounced and grade each item on the official form. (See Reference 1)

Fill in a "Notice of Intent to Operate a School Form" and send it to the Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE). The Notice of Intent reports the name of the school, its address and the names of its chief administrator and owner(s). Send a copy of the Initial Courtesy Inspection Form with this. (See Reference 1)

Hiring Staff

Establish a hiring committee and set the criteria for hiring. Ensure that the committee understands the needs and objectives of the school. Choosing the right personnel for the school is a key to the success of the school. (See Reference 4)

Set your hiring process and publish your staff requirements. Alternatively, you can use an employment agency that is experienced in hiring highly qualified teaching staff.

Hire a principal with strong leadership qualities. Principals are in charge of the daily running of the schools and managing the teaching staff. They ensure that the schools meet their objectives and expectations. Schools with good leaders perform better. (See Reference 3)

Hire highly qualified teachers for core subjects, such as English, Mathematics, Science, Foreign Languages and Social Studies. Highly qualified teachers will hold a Bachelor's Degree or above. They will have a license issued by the state after passing rigorous tests. Teachers should also be competent in the core subjects they are teaching. It is very important that your teachers are highly qualified, but it is also important that they are effective in a classroom environment. (See Reference 4)

Hire a guidance counsellor and a school nurse. They will assist in the physical and mental development of the students.

Writing a Curriculum

Prepare the curriculum. With the help of the new staff, plan the school curriculum. Set the goals that the students should achieve at the end of every school year. The core subjects to include in the curriculum are Mathematics, English language, Reading and Spelling.

Establish a minimum grade for graduation. North Carolina General Statutes 115C-550 and 115C-558 state that private schools should have a minimum grade that the students must attain before they can graduate. The Division of Non-Public Education recommends that new private schools set a minimum grade equivalent or higher than that of the public school but lower than desired. This should be revisited five years later. (See Reference 2)

Define the strategies and support that the school will provide to students to achieve the overall goals of the school. This gives the teaching staff knowledge of what they need to implement to ensure the success of the school and the students.

Identify the tools you need for measuring the achievement of every student. This can include weekly or quarterly tests, report projects, coursework or class participation. Prepare a set of standards that you will use as a baseline to compare the students' achievements.