(Editor’s Note: Elections for the South Plainfield Board of Education will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8. This year, six candidates are vying for three open seats; incumbents Steve Bohn and Deborah Boyle are seeking re-election while incumbent Carol Byrne is not seeking another term. Former members Ernie 'Jim' Giannakis and Pio Pennisi along with newcomers Thomas Cassio and Jennifer Curtis are vying for a seat as well. TAPinto will be publishing profiles on each candidate; they will run in alphabetical order.)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Jennifer Curtis, a resident of the borough for 15 years, is seeking election to the South Plainfield Board of Education. Her name will appear on the ballot in ‘Line 6.’
Curtis, who grew up in Cranford and lived in Piscataway before relocating to South Plainfield, has worked as a paralegal for 25 years. On a local front, she is involved with the Riley School PTO and last year served as an adult mentor for South Plainfield High School’s Tiger Tech Robotics Team. Her son is a 2016 graduate of the high school and she has two daughters, one a sophomore, and the other a second grader at Riley.
TAPinto South Plainfield recently interviewed all six South Plainfield Board of Education candidates; they were all asked the same questions:
TAPinto South Plainfield (TAPinto): Why are running for a seat on the South Plainfield Board of Education?
Jennifer Curtis (JC): I started going to the board of meetings about 18 months ago and was very unhappy with what I was seeing. Right now, I do not see a lot of situations where the students are being put first and I think that has to be key if this district is going to go forward.
TAPinto In your opinion, what is the role of a board of education member?
JC: I feel the role of a board member is to support the kids of South Plainfield first – followed by the taxpayers and teachers in the district. As a board member, you must work within the confines and do the best you can do for your district.
TAPinto: What do you feel are the top issues affecting South Plainfield schools?
JC: First and foremost is the state of the buildings. Also, there are a lot of issues with the preschool program such as the future of it in its entirety. And the budget every year is an issue; the cap is a problem and if the referendum does not pass, the state of our buildings is going to be an even bigger problem. I think every district goes through trials and I think this district has gone through longer and harder times than some others.
TAPinto: What is your position on the bond referendum that will be presented for a public vote in spring 2017?
JC: I think it is a very good thing for South Plainfield. I think if most people were able to walk through our schools and see the state they are in and the need for improvement firsthand they would understand how necessary the bond is. It is very difficulty to teach and very difficulty to learn under those conditions. You cannot be in a classroom that is 100 degrees and expect anyone to learn anything. I think when the state has received the referendum and the final numbers are tabulated, the average tax increase will not be a lot.
TAPinto: If elected to the board, what is the first thing you would look into?
JC: The most common thing people approach me about is special services; there seems to be a lot of angry parents. I know as member of the board you are limited in what you can do, but you can offer suggestions. Also, there needs to be some sort of accountability. If you have angry parents, someone needs to be listening to them.
TAPinto: What do you like best about South Plainfield Schools?
JC: We moved here from Piscataway for the schools. We have great teachers here and I don't think they are given enough credit. Also, the fact that we have a new superintendent has us going in the right direction.
TAPinto: Why should residents elect you to the South Plainfield Board of Education?
JC: Because I am new and I am different and I do not have an agenda or political connections. I would vote my conscience not my ego. There are 11.5 years between my son and my youngest daughter and I see the full spectrum. I am just a mom and a taxpayer.
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