Babylon philanthropist Theresa Santmann has donated $200,000 for a science lab at Babylon Junior-Senior High School, school officials have announced.
Babylon schools interim superintendent Peter Daley said the gift, the largest in his 13 years with the district, would lay the cornerstone for a program designed to introduce students to high-level research and experimentation.
Santmann, who sold her nursing home business about a year and a half ago, sent her children to Babylon schools in the 1960s and '70s. She described the program as an “outrageously good” idea.
“I just thought, if some help could be given, they could do so much,” she said.
Thirty-nine students have been admitted to the program for the next school year.
Work has begun on the space, which Daley said should be ready by October. Computers, lab tables and lab equipment will be installed, along with chemical storage and ventilators to allow experiments.
As school districts across the state contend with the property tax levy cap and dwindling or stagnant outside funding, Daley said the timing of the gift was especially welcome.
“Doing something like this right now through our operating budget would be virtually impossible because of the increase in expenditure,” he said.
Santmann gave $1 million last year to her alma mater Farmingdale State College, the largest gift in that school’s history.
Babylon’s school board voted to accept her gift during its Tuesday night meeting. Santmann attended and met some of the students who will work in the lab.
The girls hugged her, and the boys gave her flowers. “I’m thrilled out of my mind,” she said in an interview later. “It’s very seldom you do something that seems to be so appreciated. It sends you back so much.”
Photo: Theresa Santmann