Bowdoin College on Tuesday announced that beginning next year, the college will increase its annual voluntary payment to the town by $150,000.
The college also will make a one-time gift of $450,000 to build a special classroom at the town’s new Kate Furbish Elementary School. The gift to the Brunswick School Department will fund a 1,000-square-foot “discovery classroom” building to “provide a flexible space for a variety of uses including science and nature experiments, visiting art and science programs, small group presentations and other hands-on learning activities,” according to the college.
The free-standing, open-concept classroom will include sinks, tables and storage space. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.
“We are very pleased to be able to fund this unique learning environment for students — a ‘discovery classroom’ that will also have other uses for the broader Brunswick community,” Bowdoin College President Clayton Rose said.
Sarah Singer, a member of the Brunswick School Board and of the new school’s building committee, called the donation an “extraordinary gift.”
“This building will provide the opportunity for the children at Kate Furbish elementary to experience nature-based learning, science, gross-motor movement and music in a space designed specifically for those activities,” Singer said.
In addition, Bowdoin will increase its annual contribution — which, in part, helps compensate for public safety and other municipal services that are funded with property taxes — by $150,000 beginning next year and extending for five years.
The college paid the town $311,800 in lieu of taxes for the 2018-19 year, Town Manager John Eldridge said. Bowdoin also paid $72,200 in property taxes, he said.
Land and buildings owned by Bowdoin College in Brunswick are currently assessed at $174 million, Town Assessor Nick Cloutier said. Just more than $170 million of that is exempt, and nearly $4 million is taxable, according to Eldridge.
Last year, Bowdoin’s combined taxes and payment in lieu of taxes totaled $378,800, according to the college. The $150,000 will bring its annual taxes and voluntary payment to more than $540,000 in 2020.
Eldridge said discussion between town and college officials about Bowdoin’s contribution would begin again as the five-year period draws to a close.
The additional funds will be designated to support capital expenditures including vehicles, municipal equipment and capital improvements to facilities and infrastructure.
“Bowdoin and Brunswick enjoy an excellent and long-standing relationship,” Eldridge said. “Bowdoin’s generous gift to the school department and the college’s plan to increase its annual contribution further demonstrate its commitment to Brunswick and are greatly appreciated.”