Applying for New School Candidacy
**Note: The NSC process can take up to 12 months to complete. Please plan accordingly.
FCIS will evaluate your inquiry to determine possible eligibility for NSC. If eligible, you will be contacted to schedule a Site Visit with a representative from FCIS. The Site Visit will be conducted at no charge to the school.
A Site Visit occurs when a school wants to apply to FCIS for full membership or New School Candidacy. The purpose of the Site Visit is to confirm the information provided by the school to the FCIS Office and to determine the school’s progress towards meeting FCIS standards.
The Site Visit is conducted by the FCIS Director of Accreditation or another representative of FCIS. The visit usually takes around 3 hours to complete.
Prior to the visit, the school will be sent a Faculty Data Sheet, which must be filled out and submitted before the visit. This sheet summarizes the qualifications of the faculty, which must be assessed as a part of the Site Visit report.
During the Site Visit, the school should be prepared to:
- Give a tour of the school
- Discuss the academic preparation of the faculty
- Share a copy of the school’s curriculum guide
- Describe the governance of the school
- Provide a copy of the school’s latest budget and proof of liability insurance
- Answer questions about operations as they relate to FCIS standards
- Ask any questions about FCIS and the accreditation process
After the visit concludes, the FCIS representative will submit a report for review. The school will be notified as to whether or not it will be granted an official application for membership or New School Candidacy.
The Site Visit report will be reviewed by FCIS. If it is deemed that the school should enter into the NSC process, the school will be sent an official application. The school must return the completed application and the $500.00 application fee to continue with the process.
A school that has been established for three years or less may apply for New School Candidate status with FCIS. After an initial Inquiry form and site visit, an application may be extended to the New School Candidate. Within 12 months of the application submission, a small team representing the FCIS Board of Directors will conduct a New School Evaluation visit to ensure compliance with standards and initial preparations for full accreditation. A school may then undergo an Original Accreditation in its fourth year of operation.
A New School Candidate visit will include:
- Tour of the entire campus
- Meetings with the following:
- Head of School
- CFO/Business Manager
- Division Heads
- Faculty representatives
- Parent Organization representatives
- Board of Directors representatives
- Religious representative (if applicable)
The visit will also include a review of the following documentation:
- Curriculum Guide
- Financial Statements (financial review or audit, budget, enrollment projection)
- Faculty Qualification Data
- Admissions Packet (including qualifications for admission)
- Marketing materials
- Student/personnel records
- Crisis plan
- Strategic plan
The New School Candidacy Evaluation report will be reviewed by the FCIS Commission on Accreditation and Board of Directors. If approved, the school receives New School Candidacy status within FCIS upon the payment of annual dues.
New School Candidates may attend FCIS workshops and events at the member rate, are asked to submit an Annual Report and pay annual dues. They are not eligible to vote during business meetings nor participate in the FCIS Master Inservice Program. NSC schools are listed in the directory and on the FCIS web site.
Q: Can we be a member of FCIS without becoming accredited by FCIS?
A: No. Full membership requires accreditation by FCIS. New School Candidates enter without accreditation; however, they must agree to undergo accreditation within their fourth full year of operation. FCIS does not have any other membership statuses.
Q: What are the costs of accreditation?
A: Schools that pass the inquiry process will undergo a Site Visit by a representative of FCIS. The Site Visit costs nothing for the school. If, after the Site Visit, an official application is granted, a $500.00 application fee must be paid. Then, the actual accreditation evaluation is scheduled. The school is responsible for the expenses of the visiting team, including food, lodging, and reimbursement for mileage and other travel expenses. Therefore, the cost of the evaluation varies depending on the size of the team. FCIS does not charge accreditation fees.
Q: Our students take all of their classes online. Can we be accredited?
A: Your school may be accredited if and only if all of the courses are created by your school and are taught by employees of your school. If the students are taking courses from an outside provider (such as FLVS or Laurel Springs), the school is not eligible for accreditation with FCIS.
Q: How can we learn more about the accreditation process? Is there training?
A: Face-to-face training takes place at the annual FCIS Convention, which takes place each November. Training is also available via webinars. For more information on these events, see the “Professional Development” section of the FCIS website. Once a school is an applying school, its faculty and staff may also participate as evaluation team members for other schools. Consult the “Accreditation” section of the FCIS website for more information about being a team member.
Q: Can we get accredited by more than one accrediting association at a time?
A: Yes. FCIS has cooperative agreements with FKC (the Florida Kindergarten Council), AdvancED-SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools). You should note that any school that has grades kindergarten and below must also be accredited by FKC, so, in that case, the school’s original accreditation will include FKC by default. To add SAIS, ACSI or AdvancED-SACS, contact the FCIS office. Click HERE to learn more.
Q: We are already accredited by one of the associations you mentioned. Can we follow their accreditation process and just add FCIS to it?
A: No. Our cooperative agreements with SAIS, ACSI and AdvancED-SACS state that FCIS will be the lead agency on all joint evaluations. Therefore, the school must complete the FCIS Self-Study and follow FCIS evaluation protocols.
Q: Once we are an applying school, may we use the FCIS logo on our website or other marketing materials?
A: No. Only New School Candidates and full members may use the FCIS logo.
Q: Can applying schools participate in FCIS’s Master-Inservice Program (MIP)?
A: Only full members may use the MIP. New School Candidates and applying schools are not eligible.
Still have unanswered questions? Contact the FCIS Office at (813) 287-2820.