New childcare facility in Blooming Prairie to offer parents new option

Published 7:09 pm Friday, November 19, 2021

Leo Augusta Children’s Academy to open spring of 2022


A Blooming Prairie group is on the verge of contributing to help alleviate childcare pressures with a new facility.

With a generous donation to kickstart the effort, the community will soon be opening the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy, which will provide daycare and educational opportunities for children six weeks to 12-years-old.

“We are extremely excited and extremely grateful for this even happening,” said Academy President Amy Hinzmann.

An artist’s rendition of the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy in Blooming Prairie. Photo provided

With a target opening date of April 2022, Leo August Children’s Academy will boast a number of different classrooms, a full-sized gymnasium, commercial kitchen and large fenced-in play area just to name a few of its amenities.

All of this will be housed in two facilities totaling 18,000 square feet on the north edge of the community. The gymnasium itself will come in at 6,000 square feet.

“Folks in the community did some survey work and upfront work considering possible solutions to the problem,” Hinzmann said when the process of looking for alternatives started.

The stars lined up when Craig and Robyn Kruckeberg came to Hinzmann and offered to donate the land and building of Minimizer, a Blooming Prairie company that moved to Owatonna in 2018.

“Low and behold, Minimizer sold in 2018 and announced it was moving to Owatonna,” Hinzmann said. “That left … a piece of property that really wasn’t being used. Craig walked into my office one day and asked, ‘what if we donate that property to run a childcare facility?’”

The building that housed Minimizer will be used as the foundation for the Academy, which will renovate the site for its needs. Demolition efforts are already nearing completion.

A look at one of the classrooms that will make up the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy. Photo provided

What will really stand out about the academy is its flexibility, while at the same time laying a platform for students as they head into the next phases of education.

“They’ll be ready for kindergarten,” Hinzmann said. “The child is going to be able to get that kind of learning at the childcare center. Our goal is that our children are going to be kindergarten ready.”

It will also fill the child care cap for parents. It will be a place for students to go either before or after school while working with a parent’s need for flexibility.

“Parents need more options for child care,” Hinzmann said. “Driving kids out of town and putting on miles … we’re doing this balancing act. That’s going to give the Blooming Prairie area more options, a 12-hour window to pick up their kids.”

At full capacity, the school will host 144 students, which will utilize seven classrooms planned for the academy and filled with fully licensed and experienced educators.

When completed and fully operational, the academy will also serve as an economic generator as it plans to hire 25 people at the height of capacity.

“We really want this to be a community embraced project,” Hinzmann said.

Because the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy will be a non-profit, it is in the middle of a $3 million fundraising campaign, with a total of $1 million currently in hand.

It’s also working with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to help structure its nonprofit status.

“We’re really going to be differentiating ourselves with our curriculum and teaching life skills,” Hinzmann said. “One of the reasons we wanted to be a nonprofit is we can bring special needs consultants in the door. We want to prepare the little people before they go to school.”