Babcock Neighborhood School has hired Shannon Treece, the principal of Oasis High School, to lead its new K-6th grade charter school set to open in August.
Treece was selected from among 164 applicants to serve as the school’s first principal and she will spearhead the “development of both the curriculum and selection of staff for the innovative ‘greenSTEAM’ school” under construction at Babcock Ranch, a fledgling community off SR 31 just across the Lee County/Charlotte County line.
“We felt it was critical to find someone with experience in starting a new school, and who shared our passion for place-based, project-based learning,” said Dr. Christy Noe, President/CEO of Collaborative Educational Network, the consulting firm retained by developer Kitson & Partners, in a prepared statement. “Shannon has proven herself over and over again as a teacher and principal, inspiring students and staff to achieve their full potential. Her energy is infectious and we look forward to her leadership.”
According to the release, Treece moved from teaching to administration in 2004. She served as an assistant principal at the middle and high school levels in Kentucky and became a principal in 2007. She was hired by the Cape Coral Charter School Authority to serve as principal of the city-operated system’s high school in 2015.
“Everything I have done in my career has led me to this opportunity and (I) am thrilled to serve the students, teachers, and parents at Babcock Neighborhood School,” Treece said in the prepared statement. “This school is going to be something special and I am humbled that I was chosen to take the helm and support teachers and students in this exciting endeavor. Having my own child experience a next generation educational environment defined by project based learning around the greenSTEAM philosophy is exciting.”
Treece will interview and hire staff and work with Babcock Neighborhood School school board members and CEN consultants to design the full curriculum.
Teaching positions at Babcock Neighborhood School will be posted on April 10 at www.babcockneighborhoosdschool.org .
“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,” the release states.
Babcock Ranch, which held a Founder’s festival last month to unveil its newly opened town center and first model homes, will be home to about 50,000 people at buildout about 20 years down the road. The construction of the first streets,sidewalks, parks, pathways, lakes and other amenities are moving forward with the town-in-the-making’s first businesses – the Curry Creek Outfitters and the Table & Tap, an indoor-outdoor restaurant and beer garden, open to the public.
The surrounding area is rural and the charter school to open in time for the 2017-18 school year is the only public school within a ten-mile radius of the new town center, the release states, adding the new school will also be a more convenient option for neighboring families.
“Enrollment is open to all students who qualify to attend a public school in Charlotte County, including out of district students who can be admitted on a space-available basis,” the release states. “The initial application period closed in February 2017 and students selected through a lottery drawing received notice of preliminary admission. They must complete the enrollment process to claim their spot. Additional applicants are being placed on a waiting list. Once the enrollment period closes students on the waiting list will be selected by lottery to fill openings with first preference given to students who reside in Charlotte County.”
Already in the planning stages are the next stages of what will be a charter school system that will take students through high school, much as does the city of Cape Coral’s four-school network, which began with one K-5 elementary school in 2005 and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015 with an enrollment of about 3,200 students.
“With enrollment already near full capacity of the inaugural school facility located at the center of town on Founder’s Square, Babcock Ranch is accelerating development of the 35-acre school campus that will be permanent home of BNS K-8 school as well as the high school,” the release states. “In the interim, the current school building will be adding classrooms to accommodate more students starting in the Spring of 2018.”
“This opportunity is a dream come true on many levels as this work has been my passion for many years,” Treece said. “I desire to honor those who have invested in mentoring me throughout my career by making a difference in the lives of others. I serve in the best profession that exists and I look forward to serving at Babcock Neighborhood School.”
Treece is the second high-level educator within the city of Cape Coral’s four-school charter system to announce their resignation in the last two weeks.
Superintendent Nelson Stephenson has provided the Cape Coral Charter School Authority with notice of his intention to resign effective June 30.
The school governing board previously approved, in February, a two-year contract with a salary increase to $125,000 annually.
Stephenson, hired in 2014 to replace Dr. Angela Pruitt, who resigned after one year to accept a position as Human Resources executive director for the Lee County School District, said he has chosen not to sign that contract.
“I am simply not re-signing the new contract, but intend upon completing my initial 2.5-year contract,” Stephenson wrote in an email to The Breeze. “I also am doing this with more than a 90-day announcement in advance. My predecessor gave a two-week notice.”
The resignations come in the wake of a controversy that began last June after, according to Stephenson, Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki confronted him regarding a teacher whose contract was not renewed for the upcoming school year. The issue became public – and ugly – in December with Stephenson and Sawicki exchanging accusations in the media and at a City Council meeting. An internal audit of the city school system, requested by Stephenson, then raised additional issues, including whether the system was financially sustainable under its current method of operation. The debate continued Monday night with Council divided – and many critical – as to how to best address the various matters raised.
Meanwhile, the Cape Coral Charter School Authority scheduled an emergency meeting for this morning to decide what steps to take to find a new superintendent in time for the 2017-18 school year.
In the wake of controversy again expressed at Monday night’s Council meeting, the governing board first asked Stephenson if he was willing to stay. He said he was willing to stay until the end of his contract. After much discussion, the board begrudgingly voted 6-1 to terminate Stephenson “without cause” effective immediately, allowing him to leave with four month’s severance pay. He also will receive a letter of recommendation from the Authority.
The board then appointed Jackie Collins, principal of Christa McAuliffe Charter Elementary School, as acting interim superintendent.