Press Release from Sr. Judith Schaefer for Cotter Schools:
With gratitude, this week Cotter Schools announced the largest gift in the schools’ 108-year history. A $15-20 million gift from the Slaggie Family Foundation will construct a state-of-the-art academic building for middle and high school students on the school’s Winona campus. In addition, the Hiawatha Education Foundation is donating funds to strengthen the family tuition assistance program. Together the gifts will allow more area children to access the exceptional education provided by the Catholic college preparatory school.
“The spirit of generosity among our alumni is a testament to the high-quality education they and their families have experienced in Cotter Schools,” Sister Judith Schaefer, President of Cotter Schools said. “The Cotter Schools experience is about achieving academic excellence. With these substantial gifts, our students will be better challenged and fully prepared to excel in college and beyond. More local students will experience a Catholic education that is rooted in faith, hope and love. We are overwhelmed with gratitude.”
The primary focus of the construction will be to support academic rigor with a new building at the site on the current Roger Bacon Hall: new classrooms, updated infrastructure, and modern science labs, in addition to a new cafeteria. The skyway over Vila Street connecting St. Teresa Hall with the academic building will remain a focal point of the campus and community.
“Cotter Schools are near and dear to our hearts,” Mike Slaggie said. “This gift is a direct result of the experience my dad had when he attended, and my siblings and I had when we attended.”
“It’s a wonderful blessing we’ve been given, so it’s great to give back and share,” Barb Slaggie added.
According to administrators, the school currently has more than $15 million in deferred maintenance needs. Upgrading facilities to enhance STEM education is crucial to preparing students for a rapidly changing world. “Our family saw an opportunity to address deferred maintenance issues and give Cotter Schools the chance to step up and step forward with 21st-century classrooms for students,” Mike Slaggie added.
In addition to the Slaggie Family Foundation Gift, the Hiawatha Education Foundation will provide additional funding for tuition relief for local students. The generosity of this philanthropy makes Cotter Schools accessible to more highly motivated local students, regardless of religious affiliation.
“The contributions will provide more middle and high school students with an opportunity for rigorous academic study, faith-centered educational experiences, and personally enriching athletic and arts activities to help each student discover and develop his or her fullest potential,” Sister Judith Schaefer said. Tuition for the Catholic school is among the lowest of any private school in the Upper Midwest.
Cotter Schools has a long and proud history of attracting international students. “We think the new facilities will make Cotter more attractive for its international student boarding program and give the entire community an excellent educational facility,” Mike Slaggie said.
Construction on the new facility is expected to begin this spring, with some classrooms opening in fall 2020.
You can read the Winona Post article regarding this tremendous gift on their website.