2009 Rocky Mountain Teacher Fair

Facility Planning and School Purchasing

The Charter School Start-up and Operating Guidebook provides guidance regarding facility options and financing opportunities. The school may want to consider hiring professional consultants to help navigate the development of a safe, legal, and appropriate school facility.

As it becomes evident that contract terms will be finalized, the founding group can also prepare to finalize the plans for the school facility. Once the school has a contract with the authorizer, it can then enter into contracts with contractors, finalize construction schedules, and prepare for the delivery of school furniture and supplies. Construction schedules can be very short depending on the time of year when the charter contract is ultimately approved. The school should consider developing contingency plans in case the facility is not ready on the planned first day of school. In addition, it is important to remember that emergency plans (in the event of fire, tornado, security breach, etc.) should be in place prior to the first week of school.

Developing groups should either recruit team members with targeted skill sets and experience, or access expertise in areas where the developing team lacks these needed skills and connections. A good example of this is in the area of facilities acquisition. There are many requirements that range from doing a needs assessment on the type and amount of space needed to implement the program, to zoning restrictions and permits that are needed in order to renovate a potential school site and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.

It is critical that the developers obtain specifics about sites that will meet these requirements, and have accurate information to use in assessing whether a facility has adequate room for their school design and needs. When an application is submitted, the applicants should list at least 2 potential sites and provide as much information as possible (so as not to violate any confidentiality issues) detailing the size, location, and amenities of each site. They should also have budget areas broken down to adequately show all of the related costs and assumptions that support those costs. Details of what should be considered in a facility can be referenced in the Quality Standards.

The League manages a trio of charter-focused vendor programs as a resource for charter schools. The programs include vetted and non-vetted providers, based on the needs of the schools. These programs facilitate an efficient starting point to select products and services across various industries. You can learn more about these programs on The League websites' Vendor Progam page.

Click here for information on how to conduct sound due diligence when making important purchases.

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