Anyone want to move to CA and help open a school.....?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jem, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Uh.... yeah. So I have a group of parents who are working with me to create a non-profit school for next year. I've got two possible sources of major funding, and am ready to start aggressively pursuing this. I, however, cannot do this on my own. I must have at least one team teacher. I do not want this 'school' to be larger than three classrooms. I'm envisioning me teaching fourth next year, and the other teacher can pick their grade (3-5). They will loop with their kids, so only three teachers max, with 10-12 students max, and they will have them each year until that class 'graduates'. The school will be totally hands-on, based on Bloom's and the Multiple Intellegences, with independent study being a huge part of it. Many of the days will be field trip based (going to the beach to surf for PE, going to science museums for the day). If I can get enough enrollment, our salaries should be very nice. Hopefully. Anyhow, I'm looking for a kindred spirit who has an adventurous, risk-taking spirit and is looking for a fantastic challenge. I'm hoping to find a building for it in Berekely.

    And this does not go in the job-searching forum, because that is where people without a job go to chat, and I am not above stealing a fantastic teacher or two from their current positions.

    Anyhow, wonderful opportunity to break out of the box and make your classroom everything you've ever wanted. No principals to say no, all the funding you could ever want (through tuiton and donations), etc. I'm looking to make a dream school come true. Anyone want to join me?
     
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  3. purplecrazy21

    purplecrazy21 Comrade

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    Wow! Your school sounds fabulous!!! I would love to teach there. However, I don't really see myself moving out of the state I am in now. Want to come to CO and open it instead?;)
     
  4. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    I wish I could!! Good luck!
     
  5. MrsWbee

    MrsWbee Companion

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    Jem... if I could, I would in a heartbeat! I'd LOVE to work with you!!!!
     
  6. traveler

    traveler Comrade

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    I am in CA. I am very curious about this. This would be a wonderful and unique experience. How sure are you this will happen this next year?
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I can't help you as my area of expertise isn't elementary school...but if you need a staff statistitian, I'm all there for you :D
     
  8. deedee

    deedee Connoisseur

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    Wow naybe I should add CA as a possible relocating state! Your school sounds like it would be a great place to work.
    ...so far its AZ, FL, PA and NC
     
  9. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    How ambitious of you, good luck w/ it!
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2008

    What are the requirements in CA for a school to be accredited? Will your kids have to take the standardized tests that the local public school kids do? Even if their syllabus is atypical?

    How secure is your funding in these rough economic times?

    You mention "No principals to say no"--- does that mean I can teach whatever I want once I'm hired? I have complete academic freedom? No syllabus, no requirements at all?

    Will teachers receive health benefits? Tenure?

    I honestly do wish you luck, but I think you left out a lot of important details. I have a zillion other questions, but I'll stop here. Have you thought out all these details, and just not chosen to post them (understandably-- you wanted an intro post, not a handbook.) But I think there's a lot more to opening a school than just wanting to and having some funding possibilities.

    Honest, I wish you the best in this endeavor. Keep us posted on your progress.

    Or am I just being totally obtuse, and your post was tongue in cheek?
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I know this is a serious dream of yours, Jem, and I think you just might accomplish it, but, I'm with Alice, on this one.

    With the plans you listed, you could easily attract students who can't be successful in traditional settings. Unless that's your market niche, I'd be very careful.
     
  12. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    Jem, I'm glad that you have gotten a possible start on this dream of yours! I hope that all the questions/funding/etc. can be ironed out and it can really get underway....and that will be hard to do with less than a year until school starts again! Good luck! I wish I could teach at a school like that, and third grade is like a dream to me...but I think my hubby would be against moving to the opposite coast...he doesn't like the heat! Again, best of luck! Keep us posted on your progress! :)
     
  13. GoldenPoppy

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    I, too, wish you luck.

    Berkeley is FULL of private schools and enrollment at all of them that are part of the private school organization in the East Bay are reporting that enrollment is way down this year.

    Does the school you are currently at stop at 3rd grade? I see a serious conflict of interest if parents from your current school are involved in this endeavor...you're planning to take enrollment away from them while you are currently working for them? You've had difficulties with the principal over reading, etc.; there could be major difficulties here. You are jeopardizing their financial future.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2008
  14. Jem

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    What are the requirements in CA for a school to be accredited? I'm currently researching the accreditation process. Many schools in my area have been opened by parents and teachers, and it seems the common link is simply a standardized test in the spring. I will know more about this at the end of the week.

    Will your kids have to take the standardized tests that the local public school kids do? No, you can provide your own, if it truly is required. Again, still researching. I know my current private school provides the CAT test in the spring.

    How secure is your funding in these rough economic times? My area has not be hit 'yet' by the crisis. Most private schools in the area charge 15-25k a year, and we would be on the low end of that. To be honest, I don't think I could do this in any other area of the US. As my husband put it, we seem to be in a bit of a financial bubble here.

    You mention "No principals to say no"--- does that mean I can teach whatever I want once I'm hired? I have complete academic freedom? No syllabus, no requirements at all? We would base our academic goals on the state benchmarks, but each teacher would be free to choose their course to get there. With a max of three teachers for the school, I don't envision choas. I envision highly individualized programs for each student, using best practices.

    Will teachers receive health benefits? Tenure? Health benefits, yes. Tenure, no.
     
  15. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    That is actually my niche market. ADHD students, 'gifted' students-any student that wants to learn in an alternative fashion.

    And I think I'm going to stay with my original idea of keeping the school in Marin, instead of Berekely. There is where, in my heart, I really feel this could be successful. Besides, I'm sick of crossing the bridge each morning. :)

    There is so much more about this in my head. It's something I think about every moment of every day. So I probably have an answer to any question. And the ones I don't, I'm working on. Dreams have to start somewhere, and many, many people have done this around here. Katherine Burke School in the city was started by a teacher who broke off to start her own school, and now it's a super prestigious school. I'm not looking for prestige, but it shows it can be done.

    All I need is a partner or two in crime.
     
  16. MsMar

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    Good luck to you Jem. It's a wonderful dream and I hope it is able to work out for you. I think following through with a dream is something so many people don't do for so many different reasons, so good for you for going for it. I used to live in northern CA and I do think you're right that it's a place this type of school could work.
     
  17. Peachyness

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    Jem I am in CA, I'm not tenured yet, and I have done readers and writers workshop and am a very hands on teacher, so yes, if you could work out the kinks, I would LOVE to work for your school! You mentioned grades 3-5, would you have K-2 grades?
     
  18. Mathfan

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    I wish you good luck. Your idea sounds great!! I think that this would be perfect for risk takers and people who are not very concerned about tenure and benefits. It would hard to compete against school districts who offer all these for teachers.
     
  19. ILoveGrammar

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    Good luck, Jem! The bay area has not been immune to the financial crisis, but parents are willing to invest in their childrens' educations. Berkeley private schools are still in very high demand (I have been researching them for my own kids), as they are through out much of the bay. Good luck with Marin; the $ is definitely there to support it!
    I will be with in spirit, while I happily stay with my middle schoolers! :p
     
  20. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I wish you luck with your dream.

    I would like to add, that as a parent, I would look for the following from a new private school that had no proven "track record" for me to look at:

    --a person in charge who is certified and experienced in administration. I would want to know that the person in charge had been in charge of another school, and that it had run successfully over a period of time. I'd want to make sure that in addition to a thorough knowledge of education that they understood how to run a business (and were experienced doing that over a period of time) as well as having a complete working knowledge of all state regulations and codes regarding a private school facility.

    --a bevy of teachers who have a long record of success -- such as 5-10 years in elementary education with a 90% pass rate each year on the state exams. New teachers are great, but I wouldn't want to send my child to a school where more than half of the teachers were new to teaching. The best mix is half experienced (but still positive and open to new ideas) and half new and energetic!

    --a full range of elementary school grades. If I had a child in 4th grade, I wouldn't put him in a school that didn't offer 1st grade for my younger child. That would mean having my children at two different elementary schools, that may have different holidays, early release days, etc. I would only look at private schools that had K-5, or at least 1-5.

    --I would want a school that had a complete physical education program, including a certified teacher, and having a gym would also be nice. I wouldn't want my child to miss out on something as important as lifetime fitness and a solid basis in how to play a variety of sports.

    --I wouldn't want my child at a school that didn't have a school nurse for emergencies or medication distribution. That has always been a concern of mine in very small private schools. I don't think teachers should be asked to adminster medications because of the huge liability.

    --I would want some kind of assurance that this school, that I would be paying in excess of $10,000 per school year would not be attracting every behavior disordered or severely special needs child in the city. Many private schools that are starting up don't get the enrollment they need the first few years, and end up taking students "to pay the bills." I've seen more than once when this included many students who had been expelled from private and public school, to the point that they were the majority. These schools rarely have the trained staff (special education teachers, nurse, school pyschologist, behavior therapist) that are needed to deal with such students.

    While I wish you luck, having been in business for more than a few years, I really think you'd be more successful if you got your administration certification and got some solid experience as an administrator in a private school before you undertook something of this magnitude.

    Location is one of the smallest expenses in an operation like this. The cost of salaries plus benefits (and you'll have to have an accountant to take care of all of this, because just keeping up with making the quarterly tax payments, having the payroll escrow account, issuing w4s and w2s, etc.) is a huge undertaking. The cost of liability insurance is outrageous. Meeting the state codes and ratios for a private school, for the structures (ie hot water in excess of a certain temperature so you don't violate the health code, while less than a certain temperature so you don't violate the state safety level for school aged children,etc.)

    As a parent, I'd want someone who had at least 5 years experience running a private school before I'd ever consider shelling out my money.

    I'm glad you have dreams, Jem -- but I can't help but wonder if this is like the webpage (which is now defunct) or the business you told us you were starting at the beginning of the year (helping new teachers organize their classrooms and do themes). You tend to flit around from idea to idea without a clear understanding of the exact legalities of a situation. I think the web page situation was a prime example of jumping into something with the best of intentions, but without understanding the legal implications and requirements.

    If you are really serious about this -- I think I'd find a person who is already running a successful private school in your state (but not necessarily in your area -- because competitors aren't likely to help you) -- and pay that person a consulting fee to help you map out your business plan, work through all the legalities, set up a marketing plan, determine the hiring requirements, etc. etc. etc.

    I know this person would charge a hefty advising fee, but it would be well worth it to find out if this idea is even legally feasible, and then if it is, is the idea potentially marketable. Could it really be a self-sustaining entity? When you don't have the actual experience yourself, the best way to get it is to hire someone who has the expertise you need.
     
  21. MissFroggy

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    In response to Rainstorm... a teacher at my current school left 13 years ago to start a middle/high school. With the help of some parents, he started his own school and is now the director of it. He had no administrative experience prior to that.

    They have had several locations, but now have a permanent place to call home, and a full student body (I think 90 students) and are doing well. They have a niche market (which is the kids who wouldn't do well anywhere else) and he is doing great. There have been several articles in the paper about the interesting ways in which the kids learn at the school, and the projects they do.
     
  22. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    Rainstorm's comments are excellent. Experience is the key word. My two nephews attend one of the most prestigious private schools in NJ. Their school has everything Rainstorm outlined and more. One of the top items that the school is known for is experienced administrators and teachers. Not only do they offer an excellent core program, but there is before school care, after school care and extra curricular activities, things that the more affluent look for due to both parents working.
     
  23. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jem, you always draw a crowd (this is a compliment!) :) Good for you!

    Regarding the state standardized tests, even in a public school, parents can write a note to opt out for their children. Of course, if more than 3-4% of the kids at a school don't take the test, any federal funding the DISTRICT is receiving will vanish. In a private school, though, I don't think there is any mandate for STAR tests and the like.

    I'd be more interested in jumping ship if I didn't have so much of what you are planning. Yes, mine is a public school, but it's an alternative school where we get to teach just about however we wish, using whatever resources we can get (and our PTA is verrry generous). My principal runs interference with the district so we can do what's best for our students even if it doesn't match up to some new "best practice" on the cusp this year. I could go on, but I won't, since I'm just trying to say I'll be watching with great interest as you channel your amazing creative energy into this new school.
     
  24. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I know for our school, the state requirement for accreditation is that the kids have 2 hours of PE a week, 1000 hours of education or 180 days. The rest of the requirements are things like safety codes, fire drills, earthquake drills and the like. The state does not get involved in the actual educational practices, at least here in WA. I mean, we have "free schools" here where there aren't even any teachers OR curriculum at all!

    Check this out: http://www.clearwaterschool.com/

    Anyway, what I am saying is that the state requirements may not be as much as the NAIS requirements. I think a school has to be in existence awhile before NAIS will even consider accreditation. I was telling Jem in a PM, that my school is undergoing accredidation again (every 7 years) and there are LOTS of requirements, however very little has to do with actual curriculum or standards! In fact, none that I can think of. They just want to make sure that you do what you say you do. That is the beauty of private schools.

    In my state there is NO requirement for standardized testing, following a curriculum or anything like that. To be accredited under NAIS, you have to have a mission statement that you adhere to and follow that mission statement, use a scope and sequence of some kind, and there are lots of finance and board rules that you have follow.

    Our school does not give grades and does not do testing of any kind. We have been accredited for like, 40 years!
     
  25. senseijoao

    senseijoao Rookie

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    The administration of the schools I've served in CA has farmed out the school's WASC accreditation legwork so much, I think I could probably do it myself!

    :D
     
  26. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    WOW! I'd love to join you BUT just got out here to Texas. Your school sounds like MY DREAM SCHOOL! What is the name? I'd love for you to call it CHILD AT HEART. I took an ECE class; (Administration) in CA and we did a project on a personal school that each of us would open with all the detailed stuff; the blue print, how many staff members, age group I'd serve, Parent Handbook, my philosophy, etc., etc. It was one of my favorite projects that I ever did in an ECE class. I named my school, "CHILD AT HEART". You should do a NAME CONTEST and see what name would win, with the PARENTS you already have,etc., voting on it. IF YOU DO, my entry is "CHILD AT HEART". :) Good luck and hope you'll find the help you need. Let me know what you think about the name contest.
    We live to teach another day, so teach like it's your last day!
    Later,
    Rebel1
     
  27. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    How much are you planning on paying the teachers? If I remember correctly you live in the Bay Area one of the most expensive areas to live in the entire United States, if you are inviting people to move here to teach you would need a salary that would be worth them moving.

    There are many small schools in the Bay Area that are here for a year or two and then gone. Are you considering trying to be a charter school to one of the districts? Are you considering reaching out for funding to grant foundations? If you have just started doing the research you might want to aim for a few years in the future rather than this year.

    I have talked to teachers who have worked in no principal schools it is a lot of work. All the work a principal does still needs to get done; so it is passed out to various teachers.
     
  28. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    How much are you planning on paying the teachers? I'm hoping around 50-80k a year. Probably 50k to start.

    Are you considering trying to be a charter school to one of the districts? No. We'd be totally separate from public schools.

    Are you considering reaching out for funding to grant foundations? If I can organize it as a non-profit. I'm still researching.

    I have talked to teachers who have worked in no principal schools it is a lot of work. All the work a principal does still needs to get done; so it is passed out to various teachers. It's called a teacher co-op. There are several around here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2008
  29. dragonfly05

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    I just wanted to chime in and wish you good luck in your endeavors! We need more wonderful people like you who are willing to take risks, as you are, to give those children who need alternative teaching, a chance to learn. I can't wait to hear more about your journey! :)
     
  30. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I believe in you. It is never too early to start dreaming and working toward your goal. This is your fourth year teaching, correct? If you cannot open your own school this following year, you will be able to obtain more experience as you research more. Try to visit some of the schools in the area and ask those who started the schools how they obtained their "vision". That will help you to fine-tune yours.

    I had to crack up at the salary (it's not you, I promise). In this amazing state of Florida, I started out in July 2004 at $29,800.00. Of course my salary has raised, but I never realized how most states pay more than Florida. I still make- plenty, plenty... plenty- below $50,000.

    Okay, back on track. Try to get answers to these questions from the various schools if you can visit them-
    -What do they do for the students who cannot pay tuition? (I think of my own here; we are a Title I school and 70% is on free lunch... I would never want to exclude those who almost need to learn the most.)
    -How do you advertise for your school? What resources do you make available for parents?
    -How do you correlate to state standards?
    -Are there certain lengths (blocks) for subjects each day (like reading or math)?
    -Do you provide lunch for your students (do you require them to pay), or do you require them to bring your own lunch?
    -How do you keep portfolios/cum files for your students if you transfer to another school at a later time?
    -When you take a field trip, do parents just bring the kids? How do you clear them and make sure they do not have anything on their record? Can parents join together to drive students in their own vehicles, or do you rent a bus for the entire group? (The last thing you want to be is sued. With the Jessica Lunsford Act in Florida, so much has tightened with registered volunteers and making sure they are valid.)
    -How do you get the community to assist with funding?

    Good luck. I am obviously remaining in the lovely state of Florida to continue earning way below $50,000. :rofl: I cannot move to California.
     
  31. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    The non-traditional school where I work was started over 20 years ago and shares some of your vision, Jem. It certainly has many wonderful aspects, and I wouldn't want to work in a public setting, but there are also serious drawbacks for the people who work there, and some for the students. Financial problems are the biggest. We are a great environment for sensitive students, some LD students, some students with asbergers, ADHD. We aren't so great for gifted kids or for kids who just don't find their niche in such a small environment because there aren't enough students to provide a variety of social groups.

    How in the world could you support teachers with just three classes? 12 kids times $12,000 a year wouldn't do it. What tuition can you charge out there?
     
  32. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm not planning on (EVER) leaving the great school district in which I work but just for giggles I did a cost of living comparison between where I am in N NJ to SF- I'd have to make $101,857 in San Francisco, California ($121,208 in Marin, CA) to compare to what I make here...

    Ms Jaztal, a salary of $50,000 in Brooksville, Florida should increase to $97,989 in San Francisco, California to adjust for cost of living... Now if only I can take that $102K and you take the $98K and stay where we are!!

    But given that Calif teachers seem to be in trouble as far as budgets and cutbacks go, Jem, you may get some interest within your state from teachers who are frustrated, laid off, can't find a job. Maybe even teachers from parochial schools- the $50K would probably be a pay raise for them...sometimes even teachers are willing to take lower pay if the school climate/conditions are appealing to them. It's just tough- you'd want experienced professional educators with proven track records, I assume, in order to attract families/students, yet the initial pay could be a stumbling block to attracting such teachers. Maybe there's grants/foundations from which you could apply for /receive money for your start up costs, allowing you to pay the teachers more?

    Here's a website that generates COL comparisons if anyone is interested:

    http://www.bestplaces.net/COL/
     
  33. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Wow, Czacza, that is a really cool site! Just for fun, I typed in my current location and salary, and compared it to Marin, California. I'd have to earn $115,779 in salary (not including benefits, retirement, and other perks, etc.) to make an equivalent salary. It really must be expensive to live in California!
     
  34. alielizadubois

    alielizadubois Companion

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    Jem, I have serious visions of opening a school one day too. And, we are *very* interested in moving to California very soon. Seriously. However, I've got very specific goals and foundations in mind, which may not match yours, but how interesting and tempting! Oh my. Would you be interested in talking more about your plans, how you think you may go about this, etc. etc. Even if it weren't as partners, I would love love love to know more about how you plan to make this work, as one day, I dream of opening a school. I am especially interested in the funding aspect, and non-profit status.

    May I also recommend: http://www.craigslistfoundation.org/index.php?page=Boot_Camp

    It is a non-profit boot camp of sorts, held in San Fran on October 18th. You should definitely look into it. They teach the ins and outs of non-profit business running. I wish I could go. They had one in NY but I missed it, though, they hold it every year.

    ETA: I just realized Oct. 18th was yesterday, lol. Too bad. I missed it, you missed it, we will all have to wait until next year, but I suppose its worth the wait!
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2008
  35. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2008

    Jem-I wish you the best of luck in this new adventure. I know that other posters brought up some good points that I would never have thought about. It sounds like you have already researched it or in the process of researching it, and it will be a great school! If DH didn't have a job here and I didn't love our low cost of living so much, I would definitely move to CA to be a teacher at your school!
     
  36. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2008

    I make 38K right now. It's ridiculous.

    Tuition would be around 20k.
     
  37. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Oct 19, 2008

    My hubby quit his job up in northern san francisco (close to where you live now Jem) because they only paid him 45,000. It was NOT enough. But, if two people were making 45,000 each, maybe it would be enough. It was just him working at that time. In the town I work in, 2 hours south of Jem, the teachers make quite a bit compared to how much we pay to live here. So, it's not expensive to live everywhere in CA. Mainly by the coast.
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2008


    Jem what you are making translates to about $25,281 in my N NJ town...not enough to live on here ...
    Is your salary typical of your area? Is it because of the kind of school in which you teach? Are you considered a 'new teacher' by districts (lower step on the salary scale...)

    Your 20K tuition translates to about 13,2oo in my area which schools get (some exclusive onces get more...) , but they are established schools with established reputations. Do you think you'll have enough kids to make this financially feasible?
     
  39. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    Oct 19, 2008

    I work at a small charter school that has only been around for about 6 years. We finally have our own site and buildings. Teachers are at the school because we want to be, even though we do not get tenure. The school has a great reputation but also is accredited, charter school certified and has been recognized for the high school side by U.S. News and World report.

    In this day and age, Parents are looking for schools that meet their child's needs but also has a good reputation. They also do not want to have kids at more than 1 elementary school.

    How will students at your school be prepared for middle school? Are there any middle schools with the same idea you have that would take your students?
     
  40. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Oct 19, 2008

    I just did a cost of living comparrison, and in order to maintain my standard of living (which is pretty low) I'd need to make almost 58,000 dollars out there. The idea of moving out to CA and going on such an adventure as you describe is very tempting, but the reality is that I just couldn't afford the move (or the rent apparently.) Most of the questions running through my mind have been asked, but not this one. Would teaching at a school such as the one you plan to set up count toward recertification in your state? The state of NE has two basic requirements when it comes to recertification; a person either needs four years of experience teaching in the same accredited school system or 6 credit hours earned at a 4 year college or better. If a school such as yours were to be built and started in NE I would not be able to count my time/employemnt there toward recertification, and I cannot affort to enrol for college classes now either. That is a huge part of my reason for not taking graduate courses and getting a masters degree at this time (though I wish I could.)
     
  41. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Oct 19, 2008

    Jem - the quote of the day for my class one day last week was "Nothing happens unless first a dream" -Carl Sandburg. After discussing what it meant the kids asked me what my dreams were :confused:

    I think it's incredible that you have this dream and have the courage and passion to follow through with it. The details will work themselves out. I really wish more schools could adopt those same philosophies; how cool would that be?
     

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