Ever wondered what goes into starting a classical Christian school? I (Craig) asked one of our Veritas Classical Academy founding board members, Julie Serven, to reflect over the past seven years and share from her experience. She writes:
"The very short version is that in 2002, a few families at our church in Norman, just south of Oklahoma City, started wondering whether it might be possible to have a classical Christian school in Norman. Someone read through the Association of Classical Christian Schools website, in particular the link, Start a School. Twelve or so of us met monthly starting fall of 2002 to discuss some of the books on the ACCS suggested book list. This helped us to get on the same page.
In February 2003, four board members were selected (or at least willing!) to make some more particular decisions to try to move forward as the Lord led. I and some other board members made trips to 4 or 5 schools to see how they implemented classical Christian education. One school I visited was Coram Deo Academy in Dallas, as someone I knew was teaching there. Coram Deo followed a blended/university/part-time model, which is something that had appealed to me about a school in St. Louis where we lived for seminary (even though our kids were too young to go there then).
The board decided to pursue opening a blended model classical Christian school – partially so parental involvement would be written into the fabric of the school, and partially so the costs could be kept down to make it more financially accessible. We gathered together materials, raised a bit of money, and scheduled some information sessions to see whether there were interested teachers and parents of students. We put together bylaws, incorporated with the state, prayed a lot, and just tried to figure out what the next step might be each step of the way.
We were advised to raise $100,000 before starting. We were able to raise $10,000 before starting fall 2004, when we started meeting in a Baptist church in Norman. We had 34 students in grades K through 5/6. Another board member was the first part-time principal/administrator. We had six teachers and one administrative assistant. We met Tuesday and Thursday from 8:15am to 3:15pm.
Many of the years since then, the board members have just been trying to figure it out and trust God along the way. He has been very faithful. We have made plenty of mistakes, but God must be pleased to have Veritas exist because He keeps making it a place where His work in kids and family and staff keeps happening.
For those interested in starting a school, I would suggest reading all the ACCS information available. Meet monthly with interested others to see whether there is a group with a common vision to move forward. Visit some other schools to determine more what "flavor" your school will have. Whether 5-day or blended model, assess likelihood of raising money (I would say at least $100K; we are still trying to erase initial start-up deficit). And of course, pray a whole lot. ACCS also has an annual summer conference that would be helpful for networking and figuring out what direction you would want your school to take in the particulars.
The process of starting a school has been much harder than I ever would have guessed. It is definitely not for the faint of heart and only for those who clearly feel that God is in it as they take steps forward. But seeing what God has done (and having a front-row seat on the process) is glorious as well."