How to Start a Released Time Program

Suggested Steps for Starting a Released Time Program 

  1. Begin to pray regularly and earnestly.  Seek God’s timing, direction, and provision, trusting Him to raise up other like-minded brethren who are committed to reaching the children in your community for Christ.

  2. Compile a list of parents, school personnel (teachers, administrators, support staff), Christian leaders (pastors, youth pastors), and others whom you think might be interested in starting a Released Time program.

  3. Schedule a meeting for those interested, along with a CBM representative (if possible), to discuss your vision.
  4. At the meeting, familiarize everyone with the concept of Released Time, discuss possible meeting places (nearby church facility, community building, or library), survey the curriculum, and consider options for transporting students.  Give thought to the need for teachers and volunteer helpers and ask for participation.

  5. Try to schedule an informal visit with the local superintendent or other administrators (including school board members) to acquaint them with Released Time.

  6. Ask your superintendent if he would allow Released Time to be on the agenda at an upcoming school board meeting.  If so, encourage as many of your friends as possible to be in attendance.  Try to have at least two to six parents, a pastor or youth pastor, and (if possible) a CBM representative.  Have information packets (provided by CBM) for each board member.  These packets contain information on the history and nature of Released Time, legal information, insurance verification, an overview of the curriculum, and a copy of the parental permission slip.  Make sure to “cover all the bases” with respect to legal issues, insurance, background checks of workers, transportation, etc.  This lets the board know that you’ve done your homework.

  7. Obtain board approval and establish a start date, number of classes (you may want to start with only one grade or one class for two to three grades, depending on number of students), meeting day(s) and time(s).

  8. Enlist teachers, helpers, and drivers if transportation is needed.  All volunteers must fill out an application and be approved by CBM, in addition to submitting to a background check.  Introduce CBM curriculum.

  9. Arrange for permission slips (for school records) and enrollment slips (for CBM records) to be distributed to parents.  The school should not be directly involved in this except possibly providing a list of parents’ names and addresses (i.e., a school directory).  Please note the procedures for beginning a Released Time program provided for us by the Oklahoma state school board attorney entitled, Is Released Time Religious Education Legal?  If the school does not provide names and addresses of parents it is sometimes possible to obtain these through PTO organizations or local Sunday Schools.  Don’t be too concerned if you don’t have a lot of students in the beginning.  Word will spread fast and is the best advertisement!

  10. Start classes!