September 20, 2016

First school approved for Babcock Ranch

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Staff Writer

Sept. 16, 2016

A public charter school approved for Babcock Ranch will put 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 the Charlotte County School Board. Babcock Ranch Neighborhood School will begin accepting enrollment applications this fall for the 2017-18 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 10-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.

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 percent 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 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. BNS has also established a partnership withFlorida Gulf Coast University to assist with the implementation of professional development and work with their College of Education to provide teacher and principal interns.

Interested families can register on the Babcock Ranch website ( to receive notification when the applications are available