Creating An Islamic School Kathy Ahmed PHASES OF DEVELOPMENT Phase I – Research and Planning Phase II – Creating the Foundation Phase I – Research and Planning The School Planning Committee Diverse Members Ethnic, demographic Fields of professions Ex: Educators strive for academic excellence but need realistic budget, while financial officers need to be reminded of high academic standards = BALANCE! Establish the mission statement Reminds us of the purpose – today and future School Planning Committee COMMUNITY Possible Constituents Parents Community Leaders Professionals Educators Visionaries Religious Marketing and Sales Academic Focus Organizational Attorneys Islamic Political Business owners Secular Marketing in the Community Selling the Concept Community Identifying First School in Area Multiple Schools in Area Selling the Purpose of an Islamic School Selling Specific School Philosophy Greater Metro Area "One Masjid Town" First School Communities Question whether community will support the idea Seek support from key leaders Utilize various statistical information (i.e. surveys, local Masajid community lists) Use information that will help further marketing strategies, such as community needs and demographics Presentations Show results of other existing schools Identify school’s purpose that they can relate to Multiple School Areas Why do we need another school? How is this school different? Identify possible conflicts with other schools and be proactive by creating supporting relationships PHASE II – Creating the Foundation Legal Financial Academic Marketing Community Continued A: Legalities Organizational Options State Dept. Non-Profit Corporation or Education Corp. Tax-Exemption Status Charter Schools in your state Religious education – is it an option? Non-Public School State Affiliation Drafting By-laws Seek ISNA Education Dept and other school’s support Seek attorney with appropriate background Define and Redefine Committees (ad hoc and standing) Executive (Shura), School Board & Administration Define departments, responsibilities, lines of communications Early, thorough planning can reduce power struggles later B: Financial Plan Fiscal Structure RESEARCH – What does it take to open What does it take to keep it open Identify Expenses (Mission guided) Identify Realistic Income Sources % Tuition Coverage % Donation Dependent Fiscal research may restructure original goals Long term planning Locations Investments Grade level limitations Some Major Expenses General Expenses Operating Expenses -Payroll & Benefits -Building and Maintenance -Legal Fees & Taxes -Equipment -Tuition Assistance -Transportation Budgets can be created using percentages per category: Ex: payroll + fringe benefits = 65% of expenses Allocated numbers reflect school’s Fiscal AND Academic planning Budget Planning Initial Budget – What you need to open Create Tuition Fee Schedule Other fees – registrations, books, transportation Decide on the minimum # of students needed to open Or Ensure reinforced $ support regardless of student # but the #’s must get better with time and support must continue until it does FUNDRAISING Donations Goal: Fiscal Independence Donations: A dollar given is a dollar spent UNLESS investments made 9 8 7 6 Spending 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 Donation Fiscal Serenity - INVEST Invest in Academics 1000 Increases student enrollment 750 Rippling affect Income 500 Invest in Growing Markets 250 Create a 10% rule 0 Create and Endowment 0 5 Fund Time Location - General Defined goals, entity type and budget constraints, will reflect on the location of school Mission Statement Targeting specific area, independent, co-ed, affiliations… District (LEA) Various support levels with varying districts Incentive and services – transportation, books… Fiscal Standing Most influential variable in choosing location IF STEP B WELL-CONSTRUCTED, LESS HINDERENCE OF FISCAL ISSUES! Location – Fiscal Related Building Purchase vs. Lease Leasing negotiations, contracts and terms must be clear Purchases depend on funds, building availability, renovations (meets bldg. codes), etc Muslim or Not – Create legally binding contracts (Make No Assumptions – things change!) Location – Identity Related Masjid Affiliations Part of Masjid entity – Pros – Legal status differs (ex. already tax-exempt), same funds targeted for whole organization Cons – Political struggles, focus on high academic structure may be blurred by other community/Masjid related factors In Masjid building, separate entity- Pros – Independence, focus on higher academic standards, political struggles can be avoided through clear policies ands terms Cons – competing funds and unshared mission provides supporting constraints No Affiliations – Independent School Long Term Planning Provides a recurring goal: a reminder of where you are and where you want to be Focuses on ensuring original mission, vision and philosophy do not get lost Gives opportunity for learning and growth Shows the community school aims to build a strong foundation and provide stability Fiscal Summary Step 1 Donations are necessary - fundraise Don’t fall into the trap of making it your backbone Extra effort in early planning and marketing Step 2 Increase enrollment every year More students = more tuition More students = more parental involvement Parents are donors too! Step 3 Create an endowment fund, make business purchase, invest 10% funds C: Academics Based on the Mission Statement Comprehend education law & national standards Important especially if planning on competing for academic excellence Board of Directors – Founders/New members Interview new members, avoid conflicts of interest if with other organizations and provide thorough orientation Headmaster Compare qualifications to your school needs Know their educational and religious philosophies Academics continued Seek other educational advise Create mentor relationships with professional educators with experience Discuss possible academic structures Decide academic focus or “specialties” Create curriculum committee (see Dr. Tasneema Qazi paper on Curriculum Development) Academic continued Create the Academic Program Assumption: Board/Admin defined structure Religious aspects Board Expectations Clear Administration Expectations (Contracts) Administration Lead Program Development Staff contract developing Staff and Parental Handbooks Ensure abiding local, state and federal laws Academics continued Creating Administrative Office Office Management – establishment of day to day operations Bookkeeping and record keeping of Attendance, fiscal, student records, and correspondences Hiring Teachers Muslims vs. Non-Muslims vs. Certified Advertise – Mosques, Job Banks, Papers Interviews – Do not settle Background checks Provide clear expectations Support through training D: Community Outreach Continued Community Outreach throughout Legal, Financial and Academic stages provide: Easier recruitment of students Reinforces donors support Develops ties for long lasting relationships Can jump start an active PTA Get Better With Time Keep records of each year’s accomplishments Timelines – Keep you on track Be realistic – much depends on time put in per individual Create an annual checklist calendar for recurring projects and deadlines Curriculum review, inspections, staff interviews, governmental forms and applications… Final Notes Logistics and Tawakeel A school’s purpose is to serve Allah (SWT). Do not be pessimistic and afraid to start – better to have tried and failed (actually you don’t fail – if you count the blessings) than to not have struggled at all. Do not base the school’s success entirely on the numbers – plan well, but remember: He is the best Planner ALL committee members must truly believe in the common mission if they are to work as a team – not just a group There are obstacles undoubtedly – but as long as the struggle is for solely for Him – Tawakil!
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