Things to consider when starting an Elementary School

Our ministry is evaluating the interest in an elementary school, and I was wondering what questions I should be asking to help make this successful for them. As we venture into an accredited elementary school I was wondering if there are specific guidelines I may have to meet.

For example, does there come a point that we need to break off Teacher/Faculty from our staff network for legal or privacy reasons? Do I need to license software using an education license rather than nonprofit license?

You won’t be able to use the nonprofit licensing in an education setting as schools are specifically ineligible:; you’ll need to apply instead for academic licensing. I’m not sure if a nonprofit and academic tenant can be combined, but even if they can, I would separate the tenants and keep a degree of separation between the church and the school.

Overall, I’d be pushing to make sure a school is paying their own way technology and IT support wise and separation helps do that.

Agree that you will need academic licensing for Microsoft and Google. For schools, Google is less restrictive than they are for non profits.

I work in a small Christian school originally part of a church, and now independent from it. There are many things to consider, here are a few:

  • Ideally the school is accredited by your state. That will open many doors for software licensing, support from other school tech people, etc. We are accredited in Ohio and have never needed to compromise our convictions in any way to obtain that.
  • The school should be as independent from the church as possible, including a separate board.
  • Your church should assess saturation of Christian schools in your area. A situation can easily arise where there are several schools, and all struggle for adequate enrollment.
  • As another stated, your network, servers, and other technology should be separate from the church.
  • The MOST important point is for the church to understand the implications of a school in their building. This is very easy to underestimate. The building will need locked down, you will need the ability to page the entire building in an emergency (ideally through the phone system), in addition to anyone working for the school, all church staff will need background checks. Sharing a building between a church and school is much harder than it sounds.
  • While the church may consider the school a ministry of the church, and thereby under the church authority, security, etc, the governing authorities do not recognize that structure, they look to the school administrator as being in charge of the school.
  • The school must be run by trained educators, being a good pastor does not automatically translate into running a school.
  • The school tech person should participate in the ACSI tech listserv, and any statewide or local tech groups. I have found all 3 of those valuable, especially the Ohio statewide tech listserv.
  • I congratulate your church on its vision, and would be very glad to answer any questions you have.

Greg Brenneman
IT Manager
Wooster Christian School