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For those that have started a homeschool co-op...


JRmommy
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I'd love to pick your brain.  I'm in the early planning stages, and I would love to hear how you set up your leadership team and what positions did you have.  I have read Carol Topp's "Homeschool Co-ops: How to start them, run them, and not burn out" which has been a very valuable resource.  

 

I've had a great response, and I want to make sure I have a team in place.  This will be a parent led, enrichment co-op with children from nursery/prek through high school.

 

Thanks for any tips, etc. that you may have.

 

 

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We didn't have a leadership team when we began, just 4 families who met in homes. We tried to follow a format that worked for another group, and grew slowly each year.

 

One thing I'd highly recommend is sharing responsibility among leaders. I ended up doing all of the administrative work - paperwork, documents about how the group worked, website, calendar, finances, and storing supplies. While I learned a great deal in the process, by the time we grew to more than 15 families it was more than one person could or should do alone. It took 2 additional years to get the structure and people in place to handle everything, and now 3 people do what I used to do alone.

 

I probably would not build formal structure like bylaws, incorporation, etc., until you know that the group will be successful and know what the group is all about. That will take a couple of years to work itself out and it is a lot of work. Start small and informal in the eyes of your state and he IRS, then get formal when you've grown enough that it becomes necessary.

Carol Topp's books are excellent resources.

 

Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

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I've started and directed 2 different co-ops over the last 6 years which were nursery through high school. The first co-op was enrichment, and second was primarily academic with a little enrichment. I directed the first co-op alone and asked for 2 other moms to be a "board" I could come to for advice and decisions. The first co-op was up to over 20 families and 65 kids when I passed the reigns to someone else because I wanted a more academic co-op. Unfortunately, that person changed the day of the week and location, thus it fell apart. The classes were all parent-led, and all moms stayed to help in classes or teach. The families only paid a donation to the church and for the supplies needed in the classes. The classes met 8 weeks each semester, sometime weekly and skipping for holidays, and they were all enrichment classes. Whatever the moms were willing to teach is what was offered. It was in place for 3 years.

 

The second co-op was smaller at first but is now up to 18 families for next year and over 40 kids. I took this year off of co-op entirely, and I'm going back to direct it again next year. This co-op meets every other week for 3 hours, 8 weeks each semester. Two of the class time slots are for year long, academic classes teaching agreed upon curriculum used at home. We had a big meeting to decide those curricula choices together. This coming year will be science and writing. The third class is an elective without much work at home if at all.  GA history and Music Appreciation are going to be the choices, one each semester. This co-op is also parent-led, no tuition, and only church donations/supplies for the costs. I never officially picked a board for this co-op because it was smaller when I left and has grown. There are 2-3 women I always seek advice from about things, so I suppose they are my "board". One of those is the only church member of the church where we meet, so I always talk to her about anything with the building before running it by the pastor. 

 

I have a very simple application with a release from liability as well as some policies about dress code, behavior, etc. I'd be glad to share those if you will PM me your email address. 

 

I love planning and scheduling, so I really didn't need help in that area. Once I had everyone's work schedule in place, it really is just managing it to make sure everyone is in place and reworking it when someone is out. 

 

With the first co-op, I opened it up to the whole homeschool community. With the second co-op, it's been open by invitation only. That isn't because the other didn't work well. I felt that because this was academic and year-long, I wanted to make sure the families would be dependable and committed to the program. 

 

As far as money, I took up the donations to the church at the end of each semester. For supplies in the first co-op I took up a fee at the beginning of the semester and reimbursed teachers as they bought things. For the second co-op, I handle the donations the same way. For supplies, these are paid all throughout the year and each teacher lets the families know a small amount to bring to cover the items needed if they had to be purchased. For something like art, we did give the teacher an upfront estimated fee for the semester. It's all been paid directly to the teacher for each individual class, and we don't even have a bank account like the first co-op. 

 

We have a private Facebook group where all the communication happens. 

 

I hope some of this helps!

 

 

 

 

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