Turning hopes and dreams about a new school into reality is a demanding project. It takes vision, hard work, and above all, planning. This primer is for people who dream of starting a new school, though we also believe it will help school districts that are interested in developing new and more autonomous schools.
The demand for new schools is great. States and districts are increasingly searching for creative new ways to serve their student populations through smaller schools, community-based learning, and thematically centered schools. Even more directly, charter school and school contracting initiatives provide an opportunity for converting existing schools or starting new ones that often have autonomy over budgets, staffing, and educational programs.
This guide provides an overview of the school development process in three sections and includes an appendix of additional resources. It should be helpful for anyone starting a new school, though we've paid special attention to the unique challenges of starting a new school within the traditional school district structure, where building political support, negotiating agreements with district personnel, and navigating rules and regulations can be daunting tasks.