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East County Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021 8 months ago

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy finds a home

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Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy, a future K-12 charter school, will be located on White Eagle Boulevard.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy has found a home on White Eagle Boulevard in Lakewood Ranch.

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy, which will eventually serve kindergarten through eighth grade, is the new charter school being constructed to open in Lakewood Ranch in the fall of 2022. It will be located at 5550 White Eagle Blvd.  

Southwest Charter Foundation, a nonprofit that runs eight charter schools across the state including Manatee Charter School, is partnering with Charter Schools USA to open Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy. 

“I appreciate the partnership with the (Manatee County) school district and working on getting the location that we were looking for in that area,” said Eddie Ruiz, the state director for Charter Schools USA for Florida. 

Ruiz said a groundbreaking for the lower school could occur sometime between February and April.

When the school opens in 2022, it will have kindergarten through sixth grade as well as ninth grade on campus. 

The lower school facility will be approximately 40,235 square feet and one floor. 

In 2023, Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy High School will be constructed at 5570 White Eagle Boulevard and open serving ninth and 10th grades while the elementary school serves kindergarten through seventh grade students. The high school will be approximately 73,000 square feet with two floors.

Each year, the schools will add a grade level until Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy serves kindergarten through eighth grade and Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy High School serves ninth through 12th grades.

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy will be the 14th charter school in Manatee County.

The schools will have a focus on science and health with a mission of its students becoming lifelong learners. The charter school will implement the WISH framework, which focuses on wellness, innovation, science and health. 

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy plans to develop partnerships with several organizations, such as National Academy Foundation and Brain Health Initiative. 

The high school will provide students opportunities for Advanced Placement courses and to be a part of the Cambridge Assessment International Education program, which provides courses that are rigorous and emphasize higher-order thinking, written and oral skills and problem-solving and other skills.

Ruiz said White Eagle Boulevard is a perfect location for the school.

“This location was the prime one with knowing what we have envisioned for the school in the sense of the whole WISH model,” Ruiz said. “It’s right in the heart of the community. It is associated with the businesses we’re anticipating to partner with. It’s right in the area where parents want a high quality school. This checked off all the boxes for meeting the needs of our community.”

Charter Schools USA has hired Bradley Warren, who is serving as principal at Waterset Charter Academy in Apollo Beach, as the principal for the K-8 school. Cheryl Cendan, who most recently served as interim principal of Woodmont Charter Academy in Temple Terrace, will be the principal of the high school. 

Ruiz said usually, Charter Schools USA would hire the principal of the elementary school and wait a few years to hire the high school principal, but they used a different approach with Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy.

“We are bringing in both principals (now) so they can articulate the vision from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade,” Ruiz said. “You need to start articulating what that (vision) is going to look like in kindergarten, and as the students progress all the way through.”

Ruiz said Warren and Cendan are “dynamic leaders” prepared to hit the ground running as the facilities are constructed and the school opens in the fall.

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy will begin accepting applications for kindergarten through sixth grade and ninth grade Jan. 20. Anyone interested can apply at LakewoodRanchPrep.org. 

The school is tuition-free for students, and anyone can apply. Once the number of applications exceed the capacity for each grade, a lottery system will be used to select students.

Charter Schools USA projects to have 740 students in kindergarten through sixth grade and ninth grade on Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy’s campus in its first year. 

Once all grades are on the campuses, Charter School USA projects to have 1,965 students enrolled from the ages 5-18.

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