Forming Your Learning Cooperative into a Non-Profit Private School for Home Educators

Step 5 - Forms that Demonstrate Your Educational Purpose & Structure

Step 1 - First Steps, Tools & EIN Number
Step 2 - Creating Your Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation
Step 3 - Incorporating Your Group
Step 4 - Joining a Professional Education Association
Step 5 - Forms that Demonstrate Your Educational Purpose & Structure
Step 6 - Completing the Non-Profit Application
Step 7 - Obtaining State Corporate Income Tax Exemption
Step 8 - Applying for Sales Tax Exemption
Step 9 - Official Papers of the First Meeting of the Board
Step 10 - Optional Accreditation & Meeting State Requirements
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The following is a list of suggested forms that may help you to demonstrate educational structure to the IRS.  You should take the time to create ALL your forms, or edit existing ones, prior to completing your 501C3 application.  Blank sample copies of ALL your organizational forms should be included with your application.  They should be stamped with the embosser and should each include your letterhead information (name of Academy, mailing address, etc.)  If you don't already have one, you should immediately purchase a school binder for all your records.  Keep these records current at all times.
You may wonder why I do not simply share samples of these forms from my own group.  Each group operates individually so your forms will obviously be different than mine.  These are simply suggestions, they are NOT required by the IRS.  Some may not even fit your organizational purposes.   However, the inclusion of these types of forms may help to answer unaddressed questions in the mind of your IRS reviewer and save valuable time for BOTH parties.  You will find that creating your forms will make the application process run smoothly!
Lastly, be HONEST.  Sending the IRS sample forms that you are NOT collecting/maintaining is a federal offense.  You MUST be truthful on your application.  Only submit forms that you intend to maintain.  NOT maintaining your submitted forms can result in your non-profit status being revoked. 
- Waiting list/Application form
You can create an automated waiting list form on your website which you can copy and include in your application.  This form also doubles as your school application form.
- Previous Year "On Campus" Class Schedules
A list of all classes that were taught at your Academy, listing grades and titles of classes.  We have one of our teachers "sign-off" on each sessions schedule.  Simply copy the session schedules and include them with the application
- "On Campus" Schedule of Meeting Dates
Include a list of the current years meeting dates for each session
- Weekly Schedule of "On Campus" Time
List the breakdown of the hours spent at your learning cooperative.  For example, 12:45 opening bell, 1pm praise and worship, 1:15 staff meeting (announcements), 1:30 - 2:30 period 1,  etc, etc.
- Social Activities
Include a list of the social activities offered through your Academy (basketball, bowling, skating, field trip samples, etc) and include the dates and times these activities are scheduled to occur.
- Enrollment Totals by Grade
Include a list of your current academic year "enrollment" by grade (ie: 2nd grade - 5 students, etc.)
- Brochure
The IRS wants to review how you advertise your school/educational organization. Using an appropriate computer program, create a professional looking brochure for distribution at school sponsored events.  The brochure should explain the mission of the school and information about possible enrollment.  The brochure should also include mention of a basic "non-discriminatory policy."  Print the brochure on quality paper.  
- Non Discriminatory Policy Requirements
If you are applying for private school status, the IRS is MOST concerned with your compliance to this requirement.  You will note this throughout the application process.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that you comply with these requirements.  You will be expected to run an annual newspaper ad in a local paper stating your schools compliance with this policy.  Most papers are familiar with running this ad and know what is required.  A local newspaper can usually be found that for a reasonable fee will run your yearly ad.  You will need to include a copy of this ad, showing the ENTIRE PAGE on which your ad was run, with your 501C3 application.  You can find more information on the exact wording requirements, column inches, typesetting, etc., on page 22 of Publication 557 which accompanied your 501C3 application form.  Don't let this overwhelm you - it's really not that difficult.  Get this out of the way NOW, prior to submitting your application. 
- Resume of Teacher Qualifications
This form shows the IRS that your parent teachers are well- rounded, capable instructors.  Consider listing each parent by first initial and last name, including information on: degrees attained, teaching certificates if any, years of traditional school teaching experience, years of learning cooperative teaching experience, how long they have been teaching with the Academy,  how many years they have been a home educator, and years of VBS/CCD/Sunday school teaching.  You can also have a misc. column that includes other professional experiences/certificates attained.  You will be delightfully impressed by the collective experience your parents bring to your group, especially when it is all listed on one form - and so will the IRS!
Additionally, you may want to split your faculty into TWO groups, those with degrees and those without.  You may want to have those with degrees sign your forms, lending additional credibility to your curriculum schedules, planning, reviews, and approvals.
- Enrollment Form & Curriculum Outlines
Consider creating a yearly enrollment form & curriculum outline for each child attending the Academy.  This form can serve as the written record of the "off campus" or "at home" instruction taking place.  The form will take a minimal about of time to complete and could include the following information: date, student name, age, sex, grade level, DOB, SS#, address, phone, email, parents names, occupations, work numbers, etc.  This form could also include the number of days of completed study for the previous year and the number of scheduled days of study for the current year, keeping in mind that a typical school has 180+ days.   Parents could also indicate if any CAT or IOWA tests were taken, if a yearly physical exam was made, and if immunizations are up to date OR they wish to be religiously exempt.  A statement of faith can be included in the forms and parents can sign their acceptance.  Then, each of the main subject areas (language arts, math, Bible, history, health, music, art, geography) can be listed and the parent can provide the book/material/publisher being used for that subject for the current school year.  The curriculum outline can be reviewed, filed and dated by the Academy. 
By keeping record of what is taught at the school AND at home, your Academy is able to show that an equivalent K-12 program is being taught to each child. 
- Request for Student Records
If children previously attended another school, it is helpful to have this form which requests up to date transcripts and can be filed with the students/family records.   
- Insurance Waiver & Discipline Policy
This form ensures that all participating families waive the Academy of any liability for injuries or accidents AND that everyone understands how disruptive children will be handled.  Look on the web for samples of both.
- Certificate of Exemption from Immunization
Most schools maintain immunization records.  Most states also have religious exemption clauses.  If you choose not to maintain these records you can create a form that includes your states exemption clause and have the parents authorize it with their signatures. 
- Attendance Records
This form should account for your cooperative classes and could include the family name, the date, "yes/no" for attended.  This would be completed for each meeting date.
- Announcements/Minutes Form
This form could contain all the announcements for each weekly meeting date and may be "signed off" by the president, vice president, secretary or treasurer (the board members).  If all teachers are present for announcements, this may also be considered a staff meeting.
- Credits Issued
Your Academy may want to issue credits for the high school classes you teach each session.  This form could include student name, class title, grade level, school year, session/quarter number, grade granted, number of credits earned, teacher name & signature.  This form may be stamped, reviewed, filed and dated by the Academy.  A copy may also be given to the parent. 
- Racial Composition
The IRS will want to see the racial composition of the student body AND the faculty for the current year and the previous year.  Include this form with your application.
- Graduation requirements
If you are planning to apply for private school status, you will then be able to issue high school diplomas.  Make a form that lists the "graduation requirements" for attaining a diploma from your institution.  Search the web for samples. 
- Actual & Projected Teacher Expenses
Include a list of expenses paid to teachers the previous year AND for the projected year. 
- Other Expenses
Include a list of misc. expenses (insurance, fees, etc) for the current year and the projected year.
- Balance Sheet
Create a financial balance sheet for the current year.  Using a program like Quicken makes such reports SIMPLE!!
- Copy of your Insurance Policy
The IRS will want to see that you are insured.  Include a copy of your policy with your application.
- Lease/agreement
If you have a lease/agreement for your facility/building, include this with your application.