Institute for Advanced Study to make voluntary payment to Princeton Public Schools

The Institute for Advanced Study has pledged to make an annual voluntary payment of $100,000 per year to the Princeton Public Schools for the next five academic years.

The voluntary payment agreement for five years totals $500,000. The first installment will be paid beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, officials said.

The Institute also makes a $250,000 payment in lieu of taxes to the municipality of Princeton. According to Institute and school officials, the Institute is Princeton’s ninth largest tax payer, paying $568,000 in property taxes in 2017.

“The Institute for Advanced Study is proud to be an engaged partner in the Princeton community and greatly values its superb public schools,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of the Institute. “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 lead our children to lead lives of joy and purpose in a global society.”

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane said the district is grateful for the contribution.

“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,” Cochrane said. “The children of the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study have been an important part of our schools for many years,” Cochrane continued. “This gift underscores the long-time 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 partnership on which we all hope to build.”

For the past year, the school board has been working behind the scenes to seek new sources of money for the district, including voluntary payments from non-profit partners who send children to the Princeton Public Schools. In January, school board member Dafna Kendal, who chairs the board’s ad hoc revenue committee, announced that Princeton Theological Seminary has agreed to increase its contribution to the Princeton Public Schools by 25 percent, and said at the time that she hopes to have more good news soon and see other institutions follow the seminary’s lead,

“We are grateful for the Institute’s annual contribution to our operating budget for the next five years,” Kendal said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Equally as important, the Institute recognizes and appreciates the value of the education the Princeton Public Schools provides to all students in our community.”

Kendal said the ad hoc revenue committee was set up as the district prepared for a new bond referendum to expand school facilities. “Our goal was to find revenue that would lower the burden for taxpayers while keeping all our programs in place,” she said.

Princeton University makes a voluntary payment to the municipality, but not the school district. In January a spokesman for Princeton University said the school already provides very substantial support to the Princeton Public Schools every year. In calendar year 2016, $4.3 million of Princeton University’s property tax payments went to the schools. That amount, more than $2.7 million, was paid voluntarily on properties that could have been taken off the tax rolls, the spokesman said, adding that the total of $4.3 million does not include school taxes paid on Merwick/Stanworth, which are fully tax-paying properties.  In January, Kendal said the ad hoc committee for the school board was aware that the university pays taxes on some of its properties as well as an additional voluntary payment to the municipality.