When it comes to opening a charter school, you have a lot to consider; such as permissions, petitions, legalities, building a strong supportive team, approval, and funding before one can even begin to plan the physical school building. Assuming that everything else is in place – you have found the funding and have received the go-ahead from the authorities to build your school – here are a few things that you should have in place before you start building a charter school.
1. Land and Space. The first and most important factor about any school facility is site location. Have you found a plot yet? If yes, then ask yourself these questions:
-Do you have an architect on board to assist with land acquisition and permitting tasks?
-Is the land safe to build on (for example, did you check with a soils engineer)?
-Do you have permission to build there and proper zoning?
-How much space on the plot will the actual building occupy?
-Will you have enough space for a playground, basketball court, etc.?
-If a middle school or high school campus, will you be able to dispose of chemistry equipment and potentially harmful residue from chemical experiments safely?
-Are you aware of the type of insurance you may need (for example, are you in a flood zone)?
Make sure you have satisfactory answers to all these questions before you focus on a particular potential school site. You may want to consider two factors to help you before purchasing in an area: Student Population and Transportation.
Student Population and Enrollment. An important thing to consider when thinking about your space is your student population growth. You have to remember that at the end of the day, the school is going to cater to a specific demographic, and you have to be thorough with your research. Do some exploration on the demographics of parents whose children attend charter schools across the country. Find out what they expect from schools so you able to keep both parents and students satisfied right from the beginning. Knowing how to serve your demographic will put you in a better position to plan and build your charter school. Try to pick a spot that is conveniently located for both potential students as well as the faculty. If not, ensure that the route to the school is approachable, safe, and well maintained. Remember, modular school buildings are essentially portable buildings.
Transportation. If your plot is farther away than your student population and enrollment would like, are you going to provide a bus service for the children? If yes, here are some important things to consider:
-Will the buses have GPS tracking that parents can access?
-Will the buses be under camera surveillance for the safety of the students?
Parents will be a lot more inclined to send their kids to school if it is both convenient for them and safe for their children. Location and time of commute are often large factors of the parents when deciding a school.
2. The Building – Modular or Traditional? This is a question all those who are looking into building a new school facility ask themselves should I build modular or traditional? It is important to remember that your school will eventually grow over the years and to expand every year is often problematic for traditional construction. Modular construction offers a more flexible option that captures the attention of charter schools… So ensure you plan for future expansion right from the beginning. Modular construction has come a long way and has become a valuable alternative over the past few decades. It is a safe option for schools that are looking for ways to expand quickly. All modular structures can be easily modified or expanded since they are flexible and extremely easy to customize. With modular buildings, if you need to change locations after a few years, your building can move with you!
Sometimes the modular and traditional can go hand in hand. Some new schools opt for a modular structure as a temporary solution that provides a safe environment to use while your permanent school building is being constructed. Modular structures are equipped to support high-quality internet and are usually tech-ready when they are complete. Additionally, they are quick, cost effective, environment friendly, and safe. They are actually the ideal choice when dealing with the construction of a charter school.
How much does a portable classroom cost? Request a quote and find out its rental cost today!
3. Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical Systems. Another point that is important to consider is plumbing and electrical systems. Plumbing can be a daunting task, given the thoroughness and time it requires to be installed in large structures (like schools, hospitals, or office buildings). If you happen to go the portable classrooms route, plumbing systems are easy to install, and can get a school up and running quicker. However, you would still need to figure out the following:
-Will you be able to get a regular flow of running water to the location of your school?
-Does the location you have chosen for your new school connect to a proper sewage and drain system?
-Is your swimming pool (if applicable) equipped with a safe outlet (for times when it needs to be drained and cleaned)?
-Will you have access to power lines sufficient to power the whole school?
-What type of mechanical HVAC system will you install for maximum air quality and minimum noise?
-Will you be able to install reliable phone lines?
-How can you provide ample lighting to all rooms in addition to natural light from the windows?
-Will you be able to make arrangements that have to be implemented for an assortment of electrical setups, especially switchboards and charging ports in rooms like science labs, computer rooms, libraries, and all classrooms using smart boards and projectors?
4. Capacity. When talking about the actual structure of the school, the next most important thing to consider is your capacity. Here, you need to consider how large of a school you have to build to account for the expected student enrollment (which is on the rise) and most importantly, how you want to maintain a good faculty to student ratio.
-How many students can you serve with the space you have?
-Or, if you have ample space, what do you want your enrollment cap number to be?
You can always decide on a number and expand in the future (should the need arise). With modular classrooms, expansion and modification are quick and simple. So, start small. Use your funding wisely and expand slowly as you need to. Keep your school flexible.
5. Security. Another important factor to consider is the security measures your buildings should meet.
-Will you be installing surveillance equipment around your campus?
-Will all entryways be equipped with keycard access ports?
-Are you planning to invest in a biometric security system?
Every parent will appreciate any extra measure taken by the school to ensure the safety of their child.
6. Energy Efficiency. Charter school or not, there is no reason why you should not try to cut down energy costs from the operational budget expenses. While the structure of your building is being planned, it is a good time to decide what kinds of energy-efficient systems you want to install. Solar panels, energy-efficient glass, and top-quality HVAC systems are just a few things you can adopt to help bring down costs in the end. Portable classrooms are especially equipped to handle these systems, and this is a big part of the reason why they are gaining popularity.
Acquiring grants, permissions, licenses, and funding to start a brand new charter school is another ball game in itself. However, once you do, you can take the time to plan and create a wholesome, safe, and nurturing learning environment for all your potential students.
After all, a building is just a building. The right thoughts, ideas and people turn the building into a school.