March 21, 2018

Institute for Advanced Study to Donate $500,000 to Princeton Public Schools

By Donald Gilpin

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) has announced that it will donate $500,000 to the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) over the next five years, beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

“The Institute for Advanced Study is proud to be an engaged partner in the Princeton community and greatly values its superb public schools,” said Institute Director Robbert Dijkgraaf. “The Institute and the Princeton Public School District share a common commitment to education and pursuit of knowledge. Our gift will support the Princeton Public Schools as they educate our children to lead lives of joy and purpose in a global society.”

The number of IAS children in PPS varies from 20 to 40 year to year, with about 30 currently enrolled, according to school officials.

“We are extraordinarily grateful for this contribution,” said PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane. “It comes at a crucial time in the life of the district as we plan for rising enrollments, and it will truly make a difference for our students and staff.”

The PPS has been seeking new sources of funds from nonprofits in the community. In January, Princeton Theological Seminary agreed to increase its annual contributions from $72,000 to $90,000. Princeton University makes an annual contribution to the municipality and also pays taxes on a number of its properties, many of which could be taken off the tax rolls.

“We are very thankful for the partnership with the Institute for Advanced Study,” said Dafna Kendal, chair of the board’s ad hoc revenue committee. “Their five-year commitment to contribute to the district’s operating budget is meaningful. They expressed an interest in further developing the partnership in a variety of ways.”

With growing enrollment, plans for a new 5/6 school and expansion of Princeton High School, and a facilities bond referendum scheduled for October 2 this year, PPS continues to seek funding sources. “The committee has had conversations with other nonprofits/tax-exempt entities in town about ways in which they could further support Princeton Public Schools,” Kendal added. “I am optimistic that we will be able to build on these partnerships for the benefit of our students, programs, and taxpayers.”

In addition to this announced contribution, the Institute annually makes a $250,000 payment-in-lieu-of taxes to the town of Princeton and also paid $568,000 in property taxes in 2017 to make it Princeton’s ninth largest tax payer.

“The children of the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study have been an important part of our schools for many years,” Cochrane said. “This gift underscores the longtime partnership between the Institute and the district. It is a partnership based on the shared values of caring for our community and promoting a passion for learning. It is a partnership on which we all hope to build.”

In its announcement, the IAS pointed out that the Institute also enriches the community through a variety of free public programming for audiences of all ages, including lectures, concerts, and science events. The Institute Woods, comprising 589 acres of land open to the public, can be enjoyed year-round by bird watchers, walkers, runners, and cross-country skiers.