Charter Application Approved for First School at Babcock Ranch
Babcock Neighborhood School preparing for Fall 2017 opening
Release Date: September 8, 2016
Contact: Lisa Hall (850) 508-7782
Babcock Ranch, Florida – A public charter school approved for Babcock Ranch puts world-class education with a strong environmental focus within walking distance of the earliest settlers of the new solar-powered town. An application for the tuition-free public charter school was approved today by the Charlotte County School Board. Babcock Ranch Neighborhood School (BNS) will begin accepting enrollment applications this fall for the 2017-2018 school year.
Straddling the border of Charlotte and Lee counties in Southwest Florida, Babcock Ranch will eventually be home to about 50,000 people. BNS is the first of multiple schools that will be needed as the population grows. As the only public school within a ten-mile radius of the new town center – it is also a more convenient option for neighboring communities. BNS will be open to all students in kindergarten through grade eight who qualify to attend a public school in Charlotte County – including out-of-district students who are allowed to request admission under Florida’s new open enrollment law.
Since 1996, public charter schools have been providing innovative learning opportunities for students across Florida. BNS will foster physical, mental and emotional growth by providing students with an environment that encourages interactions with and exploration of the world around them. The greenspaces, lakes and trails that make up 50% of the 18,000 acre footprint of Babcock Ranch will serve as the ultimate experiential learning classroom. By focusing on local landscape, history, culture and context, learning takes on specificity and moves from the abstract to the concrete, engaging students with their surroundings.
BNS will offer a “place-based” environmentally focused “greenSTEAM” educational program that integrates science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics within a thoughtfully provided holistic learning environment. STEAM requires intentional connections among and between standards, assessments, and lesson design and implementation and integrates related standards across disciplines, allowing students to demonstrate mastery of subjects. The sustainability and conservation principles embraced by Babcock Ranch provide opportunities for hands-on, project based learning about nature, health and renewable energy with a STEAM focus.
In early 2015 Babcock Ranch developer Kitson & Partners engaged Collaborative Educational Network (CEN) to help articulate the vision for the school. CEN is an educational consulting firm that has worked with charter schools in Florida for 20 years. The unique partnership with Kitson & Partners, BNS and CEN has equipped Babcock Ranch to deliver on the promise of high quality, community-based public education with an emphasis on the core community values of environmental stewardship, health & wellness, technology, innovation and collaboration. BNS has also established a partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University to assist with the implementation of Professional Development and work with their College of Education to provide teacher and principal interns.
While many charter schools limit enrollment to early grades at startup and then phase in upper grades, BNS is preparing to serve all grades in its inaugural year – but the final determination will be based on student enrollment. Interested families can register on the Babcock Ranch website (babcockranch.com) to receive notification when the applications are available.
“Schools are the cornerstone of every successful community and we are pleased to be able to incorporate quality, community-based public education from the very beginning at Babcock Ranch,” said Al Dougherty, Chief Operating Officer, Communities Division of Kitson & Partners. Dougherty is also serving as president of the Babcock Ranch Foundation, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that will help provide financial support for BNS. The school will be overseen by a volunteer board made up of individuals from the community with experience in education, business and technology.
Kitson & Partners is a private residential and commercial real estate investment and development company based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Kitson & Partners’ portfolio includes 1.5 million square feet of retail shopping centers, 6.8 million square feet of commercial entitlements, and 21,500 entitled residential units. With a 24-year track record and long-term institutional capital, Kitson & Partners’ operational expertise and financial strength are unparalleled in the Florida real estate development business.