Fine line between a homeschool co-op and running a micro school

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Dear Carol,
I am considering homeschooling and I don’t really know where to begin. I have certification in Ohio to teach in a non-tax supported school. I would be team teaching in my home with one, and possibly two, other mothers. We would be teaching our own children, as well as children from one other family in which the parents both work. There would be 7-9 children. My children would be in 4th and 2nd grades.  I would be teaching the children in 8th and 9th grades, and possibly teaching part time the 4th grade children.
I have so many questions!  Is this legal?  Do we need to establish an organization and if so, what kind?
Thank you!
Faye T in Ohio
Faye,
I think what you are proposing is legal, but there are a lot of questions you’ll need to answer.

For-profit or nonprofit?

Is this your business?  You you want control and the ability to keep the profits for yourself? Or do you want to form an educational nonprofit and have the program run by a board of directors?

Micro school or homeschool co-op?

As for what type of organization to set up, it probably depends on how the other parents view this arrangement and your future plans. Are the parents legally homeschooling according to your state laws? Or should your program be registered as a micro school in your state.

The type of organization to set up (nonprofit or for-profit, micro school or homeschool program) also depends on the amount of money trading hands (if any) and the amount of time spent in this shared arrangement.

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If the parents are legally homeschooling, I would recommend limiting the shared teaching to no more than 2 or 3 days a week.  This would be a homeschool co-op. The rest of the time the students should be learning at home with their parent’s supervising them or the older students working independently.

My book, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out would be a great help if you want to run this as a homeschool co-op.

This would be difficult for the working parents, I realize. With them, you need to discern if the parents are legally homeschooling, or if they want you to run a micro school. Be very cautious about taking on the responsibility of educational duties that belong to the parents such as granting a grade or a transcript, awarding high school credit, or even picking the curriculum.

If you are proposing to teach in this arrangement for 5 days a week (i.e, 100% of the children’s school time), then you would be running a micro school for those children. I would caution you against doing that at this point in your homeschool experience.

You are walking a fine line between homeschooling and running a micro school. It can begin to blur and get confusing very quickly.

I hope that gives you some food for thought.  If you need more specific advice on establishing this as a for-profit business or as a nonprofit, I would be available for a consultation.  We can discuss the pros and cons of for-profit vs nonprofit.

Carol Topp, CPA

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