MSBA honors Henslin for 30 years as school board member
Lloyd Henslin has always lived in Dodge County. He grew up in the country on his family’s farm, two miles outside of Dodge Center. He attended Dodge Center Schools and in 1970 graduated from Dodge Center High School.
He played basketball in high school. “I sat on the bench,” he said. He thought about going to college and after high school did attend Mankato State where he studied engineering. He transferred to the University of Minnesota but soon he was back in Dodge County and farming with his father.
Thirty years ago, with a son in the Dodge Center Schools, he decided it was time to become more involved and he ran for the Dodge Center School Board. He won, hasn’t looked back and last month was honored by the Minnesota School Boards Association for his 30 years of service, first to the Dodge Center district and then to the combined Triton district.
He said he had not been on the Dodge Center board long when the board started to talk about a merger with neighboring districts.
The schools had been working together before a merger, he said, mostly in the area of sports. Most of the sports were shared with Claremont, he said, though for a time they shared football with Hayfield. During the time Claremont and Dodge Center were playing as one sports team they were known as the Cobras. Claremont, Dodge Center and West Concord also were working cooperatively with each other through a Wasioja Education District similar to the current Zumbro Education District (ZED).
For a time, he said, Claremont and Dodge Center also shared a superintendent.
Claremont, Dodge Center and West Concord officially merged to create the Triton district in 1990. The new Triton High School, Henslin said, was located in the old Dodge Center High School. The junior high was housed at the former West Concord High School and all three towns maintained their own elementary.
As years passed, the junior high and elementary schools were all relocated to the enlarged Dodge Center facility and now elementary, middle and high school classes, as well as the district offices, are consolidated into one building in Dodge Center.
“It was tough on the communities,” Henslin said of the merger process.
In his 30 years on the board, Henslin said, he has seen his share of difficult times and controversies. A positive, he said, is that the district has had a lot of good staff members.
One of the hardest votes, he admitted, was several years ago when the district had to make a decision about the installation of artificial turf on the Triton football field. That was a controversial topic, he said, even though most of the money to purchase the turf came from a donation from a Dodge Center resident.
At present, he said, one of his biggest concerns is that attendance has been showing a decline over the past several years.
It’s also time for more vocational-type programs, he said, pointing out that two local businesses need welders.
The district does have a good tax base, he said, but the lack of housing in the district continues to be an issue. It’s also a fact, he said, that about 40 percent of the district’s students are eligible for free or reduced meals.
And the merging of district’s in three separate communities continues to have its challenges.
“We need to bring people together,” he said.
Through it all, he said, the district’s staff and the people in the area continue to be the district’s biggest asset.
In his 30 years on the board, Henslin said, he has served several terms as the board chair and over the years has been “trying to figure out where I fit.”
“I’ve tried to always look at it as I’m only one board member, whether the chair or not,” he said. “I like to think I’ve gotten along with all the superintendents.”
Henslin was re-elected to a new term last November and has said it will be his last term on the board. Even though he will have served more than 30 years when he completes his final term, he will have nothing on his father.
“Dad served 42 years on the township board,” he said.
Like his father before him, he continues to farm, now in partnership with his brother, son and nephew.
“It’s the people I’ve met that kept me going,” he said.
He compared serving on the board to when he played softball in years past. He liked the team aspect of the game and that continues with board service.