Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS)

500 19TH STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11215 Map
Phone: (718) 280-9556
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery, District 15 priority
Principal: Linda Rosenbury
Neighborhood: Windsor Terrace
District: 15
Grade range: 6-8
Unzoned
Charter School

What's special:

Focus on gardening, sustainability and outdoor learning experiences

The downside:

School still coming together as a community

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS) was founded in 2013 by community members and parents seeking a middle school which would emphasize science and math and use hands-on outdoor activities to help students understand environmental and scientific issues.

Sixth-graders focus on improving the environment at home and school. We saw students writing letters to their parents to persuade them to do right by the environment. Seventh-graders branch out to New York City and do a study of the nearby Gowanus Canal; and in 8th, they investigate national reform on climate change.

In its first year, BUGS enrolled 130 6th-graders in the Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School building and expects to have about 330 students at full growth in 2015. Many classes have two teachers which allows for more targeted instruction and assignments for students who enter the school at a wide variety of levels. With students coming from various parts of Brooklyn from "so many different schools and backgrounds" it has been a challenge, said school founder and former special education teacher Miriam Nunberg, "to learn how to blend kids and get them to respect one another."

The school practices a progressive approach to discipline, Nunberg said, with suspensions as a last resort. Two 15-minute periods each day are for "quiet time," where students learn meditation led by two fulltime meditation coaches who came through a grant from the David Lynch Foundation. "We give students tools to prevent behavior problems," she said.

"We go into small groups in our classes," one student told Insideschools. It's helpful, she said, because "some kids are advanced and some kids who might be stuck can get an explanation from the teacher." Students also attend advisory sessions of 10 to 15 students where both academic and socio-emotional issues are discussed.

The school is across the street from Greenwood Cemetery and just a few blocks away from Prospect Park, where students go for outdoor classes. The Greenwood Historical Society donated space for a garden on their grounds and opened up their archives for students to explore in social studies lessons. Children go out to the big schoolyard for recess once or twice a day, even in cold weather.

Students with citizenship grades of 90 percent or above land on the Principal's List, a "major prestige," said Principal Linda Rosenbury. Perks for good grades and citizenship may include an ice skating trip or a behind the scenes tour of the American Museum of Natural History.

Community organizations such as the Edible School Yard and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy work with students to build a garden, learn about composting and recycling systems and sustainable technology. The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education works with staff to develop the curriculum. The school received a State Stimulus Fund grant to purchase iPads and Vernier technology to conduct science experiments, fieldwork and classroom activities.

BUGS is an independent charter school and is not affiliated with any charter network. Rosenbury was most recently principal of CIS 22, a large middle school in the Bronx, and formerly a teacher at a popular District 15 elementary school, The Children's School. The two co-founders, Nunberg and Susan Tenner, an education consultant and administrator, are District 15 parents.

The school day runs from 8 am to 4 pm, and the school year is 10 days longer than the typical public school. The extra time is used for field studies and "lots of hands-on stuff," the principal said — things like a trip to the Highline in Manhattan to learn about gardening. A six–day orientation in August allows the school to assess students to help determine class placement.

Due to declining enrollment, Bishop Ford High School, the school that shares a building with BUGS, is set to close in June 2014.

Special Education: Twenty percent of the students receive some special services. There is one Integrated Co-Teaching class that mixes special needs and general education students. BUGS worked with the Cook Center and the Special Education Collaborative at the New York City Charter School Center to develop its special education program, Nunberg said, and to train teachers. The goal is to "fully integrate the kids," she said.

Admission: Lottery with District 15 priority. The school takes in 100 students each year and attracts students from throughout the district and beyond. See the website for more information. (Pamela Wheaton, March 2014)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with a Pre-K Center

Number of Students 288

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Uniforms? NA

Students at this school

Asian

  
7%

Black

  
33%

Hispanic

  
33%

White

  
23%

Free Lunch

  
34%

Special ed

  
23%

English Language Learners

  
4%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: NA 2.59 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

44% 49% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

69% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

86% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

NA 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

23% 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

36% hi 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

NA 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

NA 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

3% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

9% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

27% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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