Auburn School Committee, at-large, Claire Nacinovich

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Bio

Office sought: Auburn School Committee, at-large

Occupation: Advocate for Kids Legal, a division of Pine Tree Legal Assistance

Education: Bachelor of Arts Wesleyan University, government major

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Family: two children

Political experience: none

Questions

1. Why do you think you’re the best candidate for this seat, and why are you running?

I am a parent of two children who attend schools in Auburn. Along with all parents, I have a vested interest in the success of our schools. I am also a special education and parent advocate for Kids Legal. Parents of children with disabilities have no choice but to be strong and fierce advocates for their kids. It is an honor to work for them. It is my firm belief that those who are most impacted by school policies are most well-suited to serve. We need a strong advocate in this role that is willing to fight for us.

2. What do you like, and what don’t you like, about the school budget passed in the spring? ($41.75 million in Auburn, up by $1 million; $74.3 million in Lewiston, up by $5.5 million)

The budget is sufficient but not ideal. We are spending less money per pupil than most cities spend, which directly impacts class sizes and the quality of education our kids receive. Class sizes of close to 30 students is a problem. I am also disappointed in how our School Committee has handled the issue of reduced school days/professional development time. The committee put out a survey to the community, and gave us a week to complete it. This is not a true effort to engage parents. We owe it to the voters who approved this budget increase to do better.

3. When it comes to property taxes, what kind of budget would you support this spring?

For the sustainability of our community, we need to invest in our kids and our schools. Having said that, I want the school department to spend money on programs that are evidenced-based and have been proven to be effective. It is not enough just to say “we think this will work.” Where is the data to back it up? I believe my role as a School Committee member is to be the eyes and ears of all Auburn voters when it comes to approving or reviewing any proposed school budgets. We need to spend our money wisely.

4. What, to you, is the biggest issue facing Lewiston or Auburn schools, and how would you like to see it addressed? 

Our goal ultimately is to have kids that are prepared for college and the workforce. We want them to be able to compete with their peers across the state and the country. As an elected official, I want to advocate always for what is going to make our schools better equipped to do this. It is my belief that schools perform better when parents are invested, teachers are well-supported, and administrators are accountable. As an elected official, I would work toward all three of those goals with the ultimate goal of creating better schools for our kids and our community.

5. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn?

At the risk of giving a political answer, I will tell you that it is not up to me to decide. There are points to be made on both sides of the aisle, and it is my hope that voters carefully consider both options.

Claire Nacinovich

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