Two compete for vacancy on Middlebury school board

MIDDLEBURY — The lone contested race on Middlebury’s Town Meeting Day ballot features two women hoping to contribute to the school board that governs Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School.
Residents Leslie Bodette and Elaine Orozco Hammond are competing for a three-year term on the ID-4 school board. Both have children in the school.
Bodette, 43, is a longtime Middlebury resident who was raised in Shoreham. She and her husband, Tom, run Tom Bodette Landscaping, Excavating and Septic Service, which is based in Middlebury. Their daughter is a second-grader at Mary Hogan School.
“I have no agenda; I am committed to ensuring the children have access to quality education,” said Bodette, who noted she was encouraged to run by board member Lorraine Morse. “The school board is a good way to give back to a community that has given us so much.”
Leslie Bodette attended Shoreham Elementary School and then went on to attend middle and high school in Middlebury.
She acknowledged the ID-4 board will be dealing with some weighty issues during the coming months, not the least of which will be two petitioned articles seeking to change the date of the annual ID-4 meeting as well as having the Mary Hogan School budget voted by Australian ballot instead of from the floor (see related article in this issue). Bodette said that while she does not necessarily see the need to make the petitioned changes, she is pleased that townspeople will be able to vote on the issues on April 8.
“I think it’s important we have more participation in the budget discussion,” Bodette said.
If elected, Bodette said she would keep an open mind and will be “willing to listen to any issues that come up and make informed decisions” with her colleagues.
Hammond and her husband, Chris, have three children enrolled at Mary Hogan. They moved to the Middlebury area from Washington, D.C., three years ago. He is a federal government worker, while Elaine Orozco Hammond is part-time executive director of the Abramson Scholarship Foundation, a D.C-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income youth attend college. She has volunteered at Mary Hogan with classroom literacy, chaperoning field trips, counting minutes for the annual Read-a-Thon, and assistant coaching with Girls on the Run, an athletic youth development program for girls in 3rd-5th grades.
“I’m very passionate about youth and our children,” Hammond, 39, said.
Hammond said her family moved to Middlebury to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban Washington, D.C. They found in Middlebury the more rural experience they were seeking, including the more personalized education their children are now receiving through Mary Hogan School. She added she’s been impressed to see Addison Central Superintendent Peter Burrows actively attend and participate in ID-4 meetings, something that she said does not take place in many of the larger, urban school districts.
“Entering the school board race is a meaningful way to get even more involved in Middlebury,” she stated in a recent letter to the editor announcing her candidacy.
Hammond said she is particularly interested in supporting programs that level the education playing field for students of all socio-economic levels.
Asked about her opinion on the two petitioned items seeking to change the ID-4 annual meeting date and the Mary Hogan budget vote, she replied, “I see the pros and cons on both sides.”
Hammond said running for local office has given her some perspective on what local residents are looking for in public education.
“(The election) has gotten me out to talk to Middlebury residents on issues that are important to them,” she said. “I’m looking to get involved in a very real way in my children’s education.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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