I'm considering founding a school that offers full-time immersive programs for the 21st century skills. Where should I start and What are the steps I should take? (Like functional steps, not some general advice)
You may regard this as general advice yet is is not as trite as you may think. The reason is that your question is very general and can be easily be answered by 'that depends' and 'how long is a piece of string'.
To answer the vital questions that lead you down a journey of what you should do, you need to go through a Business Planning process. That process provides you with the functional steps you are after.
The Business Planning process helps you to explore necessary avenues and to ask the right questions.
Your first port of call is to research. Some ways (not all) are to look at the current environment, look for models you admire and look for gaps and ways you can be unique. Look at what the market wants. What is the burning problem they experience? Envision with clarity about what you really want to achieve. Is there a match and how can you match the market need? Is there demand? (Creating demand for something new is extremely expensive in terms of time, energy and cost. Oh how I lived this problem!!!). Or can you piggy back off current trends?
To answer this question it would take consulting of $5-10-50k of work.
Having helped start a similar school (a boarding high school focused on ethics, environment, & innovation), I can tell you that the steps involved are similar to starting any business, though a school will give you a few unique questions to answer first:
•Will you operate as a charter or independent/private school?
•Will you organize as a for-profit or not-for-profit entity?
•Will you deliver instruction in person or on-line or blended?
•What grade/age levels will you teach?
The answers to those questions will then drive both the logistics of where to start as well as much of your high-level business strategy planning. For example, if you're planning in-person instruction, then your start-up strategy must be driven by demographics, as outside of elite boarding schools, bricks-and-mortar schools are largely location-based plays.
Beyond that, I think you can adapt a startup methodology like Lean Startup or Disciplined Entrepreneurship to provide a framework for testing your assumptions and moving your idea forward. I'd recommend starting by creating a Business Model Canvas that answers the basic business questions, including target market, unique value proposition, revenue (tuition) model, cost structure (teacher salaries!), etc.
I'd be happy to help you think through a startup plan, so feel free to reach out. Good luck!