How To Build Your Charter School Organizational Structure

One of the benefits of operating a charter school is the freedom you have to design an organizational structure that works best for your school’s unique mission and culture. While this blank slate creates boundless opportunities , it may also leave you craving a bit of guidance. Read below to learn more about charter school organizational structures and concepts to build the one that’s right for your school, your students, and your team.

What Is An Organizational Structure?

All organizations, from large multinational corporations to small community groups, are created with a goal in mind. To reach the goal, tasks must be performed. Determining who will carry out the tasks, what the rules are, who is responsible for making sure the tasks get done, and who has ultimate oversight is defined by the organizational structure. An organizational structure also outlines how information will travel. This can affect the organization’s values, student learning, the roles of teachers, and parental and community involvement.

Types of Organizational Structures

Most organizational structures can typically be broken down into one of five categories:

  • Traditional hierarchy Probably the most well known, but also the most outdated. Information and decision-making is a strictly top-down process, which can lead to innovation stagnation.
  • Flatter organizations This arrangement’s goal is to open up communication more by removing some of the managerial layers and seeks to distribute authority broadly rather than having it concentrated solely with the senior leaders. The managers that do exist are there to support employees rather than the other way around.
  • Flat organizations In flat institutions, no one has a job title and everyone is seen as equal. While this might sound appealing, in reality it’s not always practical; accountability can be difficult to sustain.
  • Flatarchies As the name implies, this is a combination of a hierarchical structure and a flat structure. A hierarchy exists, but flat-structured teams are created when needed.
  • Holacratic organizations Similar to flat organizations, authority is decentralized overall, but self-organized teams create their own systems of accountability. Each team has a set purpose, and an individual may belong to various teams at one time.

Pieces of the Pie

What exactly does a charter school’s organizational structure have to include? What departments do charter schools need to manage to run smoothly and effectively? Because charters schools are schools and businesses, an effective organizational model will take into account:

  • Human resources
  • Legal & compliance
  • Resources & finance
  • Operations
  • Safety & risk management
  • Discipline
  • Record keeping
  • Curriculum development
  • Scheduling
  • Facilities & grounds
  • Marketing and communication
  • Guidance
  • Transportation (if offered by your school)
  • Fundraising

Best Practices in Charter School Organizational Structuring

Research suggests that flexible and decentralized charter school organizational structures oriented toward teacher empowerment lead to better student academic achievement. This is due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • More flexibility which promotes conditions more conducive to teacher learning.
  • Organizations with decentralized management and decision-making leads to these institutions being more resilient in the face of leadership changes.
  • Leadership is less likely to burn out due to being overextended
  • Allowing for greater innovation and creativity in meeting students’ needs
  • Everyone, including the students, have a role to play and feel important, thus boosting morale and motivation

Further, high-quality schools often use charter school organizational structures that most resemble flatarchies. These schools regularly create interdisciplinary teams of two or more teachers who work with a common band of students in specified blocks of time. How blocks of time are arranged and the length of each block is left to the teachers –– as long as it fits into the overall daily schedule of the school.

This system is not just an organizational arrangement but rather a way for the students, teachers, and parents to become deeply connected, fostering a sense of ownership, family, and team membership. Because these teams also have significant control of the curriculum, learning can more easily be tailored to meet each student at her level, focusing on her current skills and strengths while simultaneously looking for creative ways to boost performance in areas of weaker achievement.

Maintaining Accountability

It is important to remember that while spreading authority beyond the principal and CEO often leads to success and innovation, there should still be clear lines of accountability. For every necessary task, someone needs to be responsible, and someone else needs to know who that responsible party is. A well-thought-out charter school organizational structure must have a framework, and often the best way of ensuring everyone knows his or her duties and roles is through an organizational chart.

Align Your Structure with Your Mission

Most importantly, you want to ensure that whatever type of charter school organizational structure you implement matches the mission of your school. Making significant adjustments to your organizational structure could involve hiring new team members or offering additional compensation to existing employees.

If you need additional charter school funding to cover additional payroll expenses, gap financing, or general operational financing, we provide fast, affordable funding options –– often in as little as two days. Contact our team today to see what we can do for your school.