SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Middle School PTO sponsored a Meet the Board of Education Candidates night on Oct. 23 at which time the four candidates vying for three seats had the opportunity to discuss their platforms and answer residents’ questions posed to them by moderator Suzanne Lepore.

BOE elections will take place with the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4; the candidates are incumbents John Farinella, Jr. (Line 3) and Sharon Miller (Line 4) along with Chere Glover (Line 1) and Pio Pennisi (Line 2).

John Farinella, Jr.

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John Farinella, Jr., a lifelong resident with three children attending South Plainfield Schools, is seeking re-election to his second three-year term on the board where he currently serves as vice president. A principal at Rahway High School, Farinella has served on the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) and was recently appointed to its board of directors.

Farinella recognizes that the new common core curriculum and new tests – along with how instruction time is being displaced because of testing and how the schools and teachers are being evaluated  – are essential issues in the district today. “I am very proud to say that the South Plainfield Public Schools are doing a great job for our kids but it is important that we continue to keep our eye on the prize as we keep move forward …” said Farinella.

An ‘advocate’ for public schools, Farinella said if re-elected he will continue to support those who work in the schools and remain dedicated to seeing all students achieve their aspired success level.  

 “Each student learns different and has something special about them that is important … There is not set prescription but, as we move forward, I very concerned that every kid is getting the most out of their experience in school,” he said, adding, “Kids aren’t going to remember every test or particular program, but what will drive them as they move forward is the have them been given the tools to discern the important for the world they live in.”

Chere Glover

A 15 year-resident with one child still attending South Plainfield Schools, Chere Glover is a licensed social worker and a certified school social worker with certification in family and divorce mediation; she is currently employed with Jersey City Public Schools and, locally, has served as a member of the Roosevelt, Middle and High School PTOs and is currently a Girl Scout troop leader and member of the Grant School PTO.

Glover feels the community needs a sound school district, one that is fiscally responsibly and provides an education and foundation for South Plainfield children. With the right direction, commitment and leadership, said Glover, South Plainfield can and will become a ‘Blue Ribbon’ district. “As a parent, I am in the moment …  I am experiencing what parents are experience in real time” she said. “I plan to dedicate myself to the parents and children of South Plainfield.”

If elected, Glover has certain goals she feels are “paramount to the growth of the district” and, as a member of the board, would: ensure that every child receives a high-quality and appropriate education; continue promoting high expectation for student achievements and high-quality instruction; being fiscally responsible; establish effective management oversight when spending tax dollars entrusted by residents; developing a collaborate relationships with staff, community and fellow board members; and reviewing current policy to ensure that it is reflective of current issues facing the district today.

Sharon Miller

A resident for 30 years, Sharon Miller is seeking re-election to her third, three-year term on the BOE where she currently serves as president and sits on numerous committees. Additionally, Miller has been a New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) Delegate Assembly Representative for several years and, most recently, became a NJSBA Certified Board Member.

Miller believes it is important for the community to be informed and that the voices of South Plainfield’s school children be heard. In her opinion, the best thing you can give a child is a good, well-rounded education. “The children are and should be the main focus of our school district. We need to educate the whole child and have them achieve to their fullest potential,” said Miller.

If re-elected, Miller said she would be dedicated to increasing district programs and staff, upgrading facilities, increasing student achievement and increasing technology infrastructure all while being fiscally responsible to taxpayers. “I believe in working as a team and promises to remain involved, dedicated, hardworking and committed,” she said, adding, “I promise I will continue to be motivated, hardworking, teacher-committed and dedicated as a board member and doing what is right for the children of our community.”

Pio Pennisi

A lifelong resident and former BOE trustee, Pio Pennisi has close to 35 years of education experience, previously served on the board of education for five, non-consecutive terms and is recently retired as superintendent of Dunellen Schools. He is currently working as an interim superintendent for a local school district.

“Education is my life; this town is my life. I have a wealth of knowledge to offer and can bring a lot to this board and to the community,” said Pennisi.

As a member of the board, Pennisi knows there will be a great deal of responsibility, especially when it comes to common core, new testing, teacher assessments and the search for a new superintendent while at the same time the need to be fiscally responsible. Having been on both sides – as a superintendent and former board member, Pennisi said he has an understanding of what goes on in every aspect of the district and feels his professional experience will be valuable to the South Plainfield School District and noted that he has a clear understanding of his role will be. “We are not the ones who run the district; we are the people who set policy based on what the community wants,” he said.