Nina McKinnon


My name is Nina McKinnon and I am seeking your vote and support as a candidate to represent Essex on the Manchester Essex Regional School Committee.  I am running for a School Committee seat to demonstrate my full support of our schools within MERSD.  Education has always been a priority for me, and it is such a value to our community.  My family moved to Essex over 10 years ago and we have enjoyed raising our two children within the community. Last year I joined the MERHS School Council to support our high school’s continued goals for excellence in education. 

I grew up in Beverly Farms and graduated from the University of San Diego with a major in International Relations and a minor in Business Administration.  Returning to the Boston area, the first half of my career was in the retail side of the financial industry at Bank of Boston (now Bank of America) and Fidelity Investments.  Both roles were customer facing and started my path (skills) for relationship building.  Whether it was helping as a bank teller on Hanover Street in the North End or starting estate planning for a High Net Worth individual, I learned the importance that everyone has a voice, and everyone deserves the respect to be heard.  Various life events (e.g., children) pivoted my career to Human Resources and recruiting.  For the last twelve years, I have been supporting the recruitment efforts for the Research and Development teams of various Biotech/Pharmaceutical companies and currently work for a large Pharmaceutical Company.  Working with such a variety of people has enhanced my listening skills, improved my ability to analyze short- and long-term goals, and reinforced a culture of accountability.

Since 2018, I have been attending the biweekly School Committee meetings.  Sometimes the only one in attendance, it has provided me with an understanding of the various functions and responsibilities.  There is a lot to learn within these meetings.  A key piece is understanding the full weight of the School Committee’s role as this elected group makes decisions that impact the entire community.  The School Committee oversees a budget that represents more than 50 percent of the Town of Essex’s operating budget.  If one adds in debt service, it is closer to 60 percent.  This level of responsibility is huge as it clearly requires a balancing act to both represent the best interests of the district as well as each member town.  From my perspective, the four key functions of a school committee are: to set policy, negotiate the teacher contract, oversee the superintendent and manage the budget. 

There are challenges ahead for both MERSD and our member towns.   Since 2013, the district has experienced a continuous declining enrollment (over 20 percent district-wide), resulting in a loss of 308 resident students.  All while district spending has increased more than 45 percent from $19,870,193 to $28,925,988.  These changes to both enrollment and budget need to be examined and a plan needs to be developed to keep our district academically robust while still being fiscally responsible to both member towns.  I am running for School Committee because I feel passionately that these issues need to be addressed in order to keep the quality of our programs while being fiscally responsible for the Town of Essex. 

In 2020 I was appointed to the Essex Finance Committee (FinCom).  While a seat on the FinCom is not an elected role, it is a position that requires its members to represent the whole community.  In the three years I have served, I have met many different people within our town, gained in depth knowledge of our various departments and now understand why it is important for the community to work together.  I believe my experience on the FinCom has provided me with the skills to work with both town partners.  The two towns need to closely collaborate as it is a joint effort to continue to provide an excellent school district.  We need to have dialogue together and commit to full transparency.  Finally, we need to work toward solutions without using fear tactics.  Budget discussions need an honest and transparent approach; e.g. MERSD is not removing all of its AP Classes.  Putting such a statement into the public domain only creates confusion and drains our energy.  

I believe my personal dedication to the district and our town as well as my professional experience will be an asset to both the Manchester Essex School Committee and to the Town of Essex.  My experiences have given me the skills to continue building MERSD into an even better district.  I humbly ask for your vote on May 8 and commit that I will listen to all and work tirelessly to represent the MERSD District and the Town of Essex both educationally and fiscally.

Thank you for your consideration.

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