Sunday, June 28, 2015

Understanding your Co-op or support group.

Every year about this time I get a TON of questions about co-op and while some of these questions are very surface like "What classes do you offer?"  Some are very probing "How much do you get paid to run this?"

So - I'm going to take a minute to explain some of the inner workings of ELCC - the co-op where I am a co-director.

ELCC was founded by a group of moms in 2009.  This small group grew into a larger group of families.
I am a co-director with my friend Lauren Slevin. We serve with a board of about 10 people other than myself.  Each member of our board is currently home educating their children and using ELCC to help facilitate that.  Practically, this means that 10 families, who attend co-op with you, are helping to decide how we run things around here.  We don't have an outside force telling us how to do it, no corporate office.  No member of our board is paid for their service.  No director is paid for their service, we do it because we love it - it is a ministry.

We are a 501c3 meaning we have tax exempt status - something we have worked very hard to obtain and something that defines who we are - the MEMBERS of the co-op own the co-op, the board and the directors guide the group.

Teachers receive 100% of the money that parents pay for class fees - 100%.  I don't get a cut of that as a director, we don't have a corporate structure that takes a cut of that - this isn't a pyramid scheme where teachers are on the bottom rung.  As such, we attract talented home school moms/teachers who are fantastic and sought after in our community, and they are HAPPY to teach for us. These teachers could teach anywhere, they could host classes in their homes, they chose to contract with ELCC.

Teachers who teach core classes for a full day (5 classes) and who fill at least 14 spots in these classes (which isn't hard)can make $100 per day that they teach - that is $2800 per year.  Teachers who offer specialty classes like Art, Karate, Guitar and Lego Robotics can make more (or less) per year depending on their sign ups.

I have heard some comments about co-ops like "Classes are hit and miss" or  "You never know the content you will get"  These may be true of some co-ops, but they are NOT true of our co-op.  Because we attract quality teachers, our classes are HITS!

We offer classes year after year (7 years in a row to be precise) of classes from TOP QUALITY curricula like Apologia Sciences (We offer 7 of these this year) and Institute for Excellence in Writing (We offer 5 this year) Math tutoring for kids 2nd grade through Calculus and History from Christian Liberty Press (We offer 5 this year) Art (5 classes this year)

In addition we offer something that most other structured programs do not offer - FUN!
Drama Troupe, Karate, PE and Dance, Guitar and Piano Lessons, Lego Robotics, Sewing Classes, Music Classes, Clubs (Hawaii club, Speech Club, Math Club, Chorale Club, Yearbook Club)

We offer milestone events like - Kindergarten Graduation, Dances, Student Portraits, Drama Productions, Student Showcases, Senior Portraits and other items, and Graduation.

If you are considering a co-op or community that is offering classes to students - ask some probing questions.  Those who have nothing to hide will gladly share their fee structure and pay scale for teachers with you, even if they are a for profit business.