How to Write a Charter School Proposal That Wins a Charter

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    • 1). Explain that you have recruited people with diverse skills to serve on your governing board. Board members will supervise the school's day-to-day operations and should have expertise in the operations they will run. Accountants should manage the finances, human resource professionals the employees and teachers the learning methods. In addition to specialized knowledge, board members need to have had significant experience working with students in public school.

    • 2). Show strict compliance with state and federal laws. Charter schools are independently run, but still are legal entities bound by the same laws that apply to non-charter public schools. Your proposal must show that you are thoroughly familiar with the state's charter legislation and, in particular, employment laws. Since officials are likely to focus on your personnel practices, consider having an employment law attorney draft the section that states your human resources policy.

    • 3). Prove the school can be trusted with taxpayer dollars. The proposal should reveal a sound fiscal plan that shows ample funds to start up, plans to manage operating costs over the long term, balance sheets with detailed assets and debts, and a budget development and oversight process. Expect officials to scrutinize your facilities budget in particular, since charter schools in many states cannot use the federal and state money they receive to cover facilities costs. Show that you sought help from area business leaders -- real estate investors, general contractors, nonprofit developers and lawyers -- to construct a realistic facilities budget. Demonstrate an innovative approach to securing facilities financing, such as tax-exempt bonds, fundraising, and nonprofit loans offered by community leaders.

    • 4). Design an accountability plan that measures your educational goals. Many parents support the charter school concept because the schools promise greater accountability of results.The proposal should list quality-control processes to deliver on the promises made in your mission statement. How will you gauge student achievement, identify impediments to learning, determine if teaching methods are yielding desired results?

    • 5). Involve education officials in the writing process, so they do not feel snubbed. Ask them to review and give feedback on your first draft. Explain that you researched proposals submitted to them by other charter school hopefuls to determine what officials liked and did not like in those submissions.

    • 6). Document your efforts to gain community support. Charter schools are supposed to fill an educational void in neighborhoods where parents believe public schools have failed. Explain your attempts to persuade parents to support your educational vision. For example, did you request parents' feedback to your ideas at town hall meetings and seek endorsements from local government leaders? This type of community outreach not only shows your intent to serve the public, but also that your enrollment predictions are realistic.

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