Marlborough candidate profiles: Michelle Bodin-Hettinger – School Committee

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Michelle Bodin-Hettinger is running for reelection to the Marlborough School Committee.

MARLBOROUGH – It’s election season in Marlborough. 

As such, city voters will soon head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to decide a handful of contested races.

Incumbent Mayor Arthur Vigeant is seeking another term. He’s running against David Garceau in a rematch of the 2019 election. 

Incumbent School Committee members Michelle Bodin-Hettinger, Denise Ryan and Earl Geary are running alongside Maureen Brennan in a four-way race for three seats on the committee. 

Ward 4 City Councilor Robert Tunnera is also running for re-election. He is being challenged by Teona Brown.

There are no other contested City Council races as each of Marlborough’s other councilors are running for re-election unopposed.

The Community Advocate reached out to all candidates in contested races, inviting them to make a candidate statement and answer a handful of questions. 

Bodin-Hettinger’s statement and answers can be viewed below…

See responses from other candidates…

Please provide a statement introducing yourself to voters.

My name is Michelle Bodin-Hettinger and I am running for re-election to the Marlborough School Committee. In 1994 my husband Lee and I moved to Marlborough and have raised our children, Alexis and Ben, both products of the MPS. For the past 16 years I have had the privilege of representing the citizens of Marlborough and of serving our community on behalf of our children, working hard to adapt to the everchanging needs of our district and I could not be more proud of where we have come. Striving for the goal of providing a free public education that is truly free for all students, MPS has over time eliminated all fees. This includes both breakfast and lunch for all students and most recently, preschool, with the goal of providing free universal preschool in the years to come. Through effective use of Federal, State, and local resources, open communication and planning with the Marlborough City Council, Mayor’s office, and our state legislators, and the commitment to making all decisions through the lens of equity, we have been able to harness our assets and reach our goals. Despite the pandemic we opened the new Goodnow Brothers elementary school last year which was completed early and under budget and allowed us to provide needed services to students during hybrid learning and to realign the grades and better meet the district’s needs.  I humbly ask for your vote on November 2 to continue to provide the leadership needed to move MPS forward.

Q1: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges/issues/concerns currently facing the Marlborough Public Schools?

The Covid-19 pandemic created numerous challenges for school districts across the country. Keeping our students and staff safe is our number one concern, so providing the most effective educational environment and supports to promote learning in our school buildings while ensuring that all members of our community are healthy is the goal. Continuing to provide testing in all of our nurses’ offices, quarantining students and staff in a sensible way when necessary, and continuing to provide masks and enforce mask mandates will need to happen. In addition, staffing has proven to be a challenge as the nationwide bus driver shortage as well as an overall shortage of other key personnel has created strain on the system. Identifying possible learning loss amongst our students is key to providing the academic supports needed to get all students back on track. This, coupled with the collective social and emotional stress that the pandemic created, has led to enhanced need for support services.

Q2: What are your goals for your term if elected/re-elected?

My overarching goal is to continue to make all decisions through an equity lens. In order for all students to achieve their full potential it is imperative to understand their individual needs and determine what the district can provide to assist them in meeting their goals. Supporting the Superintendent and his staff to assess for those needs and providing the resources (through budget), structure (through policy), and advocacy with our partners in local, state, and federal entities are my goals as a School Committee member. Increasing our capacity to ultimately achieve free universal pre-k within MPS, working with the MSBA to repair and expand the Richer School, continue to work with our unions to provide fair, livable wages to those employees who are under resourced, and maintaining smaller class sizes are all goals for the next few years.

Q3: Is there anything else you would like to share with community members?

In the 16 years that I have been representing the citizens of Marlborough on the School Committee, I have never been as proud of the work we have done as a district as I am now. The pandemic showed us that there were some areas where we were doing very well and some areas that needed attention. In the past year and a half MPS has proven to be the heart and soul of this community. When the state went on lock down, the food service employees, custodians, and bus drivers continued to work, delivering 400,00+ meals to the community. When remote and hybrid learning began, the fact that MPS was already a 1 student : 1 device district meant that all students had access to the technology, and the district provided wifi hot spots to ensure that families had the connectivity they needed for their students to continue to go to school. The athletic department and paraeducators shifted roles to run an in-house childcare center for the MPS staff so that their own children were cared for while they continued to provide the needed services to their students. No MPS employees were laid off or furloughed and all employees who were able to continue to work either in person or remotely did so. All families had the option of remote learning and a dedicated team of teachers taught those students exclusively online, while all of the most vulnerable learners were taught in-house. During this time the district opened the Goodnow Brothers elementary school which had been completed early and under budget.