Pio Pennisi Seeking Re-Election to South Plainfield Board of Education  | #Education

(Editor’s Note: Five candidates are vying for three open seats on the South Plainfield Board of Education. Incumbents Keith Both and Pio Pennisi are both seeking re-election to their second consecutive three-year term, former members Ernie ‘Jim’ Giannakis and Chere Glover, along with newcomer Kristine Keefe are also looking to secure a seat. Both, Giannakis, and Pennisi are running together as the ‘Proven Team’ ticket. TAPinto will be publishing, profiles on each candidate; they will run in alphabetical order as follows: Both, Giannakis, Glover, Keefe, and Pennisi.) 

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Pio Pennisi, a resident for 60 years who has served on the South Plainfield Board of Education (SPBOE) over a span of 20 years, is seeking re-election to a second consecutive term. He is running in the ‘Proven Team’ ticket with current SPBOE member Keith Both and former member Ernie ‘Jim’ Giannakis. 

“This year, I am running along with former board member Ernie ‘Jim’ Giannakis and incumbent Keith Both as a ticket, ‘A Proven Team.’ We are and were part of the team that helped and contributed to the successes and accomplishments the South Plainfield School District has experienced,” said Pennisi, adding that over the past four years, South Plainfield has been recognized and ranked as a ‘top district’ on both the state and national level. “We are committed in continuing to move South Plainfield Schools forward.”

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Pennisi, a retired superintendent, was a member of the board of education for three consecutive terms from 1990-2010) and garnered his current three-year term in 2017. Additionally, in both 2011 and 2012, he was appointed to fill two different unexpired vacated seats. As a current member of the SPBOE, he serves on the finance, negotiations, and re-entry committees and is also chair of both the curriculum and policy committees.

According to Pennisi, the SPBOE is currently a ‘good working board with members in specialties they are strong in’ and, if re-elected, he would like to continue working to ‘keep the district moving forward.’ 

“I have seen the district go through good times and rough times but mistakes that were made over the years have been corrected over the past three-, four years,” he said. “There has been an upswing of good in terms of stability, referendum projects completed and a handle on finances and I want to continue that.”

As a board member, Pennisi said his goal is to ensure the district continues to move forward in all areas and added that, over the past four years, South Plainfield Schools have been moving in the right direction in terms of stability, communication, and finances. 

“The board has been accountable and the referendum projects completed have come in under budget, which is tremendous. Now, it is important for us to work to budget monies every year to maintain the facilities,” he said. “The current board is supportive of that so we don’t get hit with another referendum down the road.”

According to Pennisi, the district’s ‘long time revolving door’ is no longer an issue with a ‘strong administration’ in place at this time. Additionally, he said, communication between administration, the BOE, and he said the public has been ‘tremendous.’ “It all comes down to getting the right people in and letting them do their job,” said Pennisi. “We have a good working board and want to keep it the same… everyone brings something to the table and, at the end of the day, we are all here for the same reasons, which is to keep moving forward.”

At this time, Pennisi feels the main issue affecting the district is the reopening of the schools and establishing some type of normalcy. “These are trying times for everybody and I understand both sides and can be objective,” he said. “I know how important it is to get our students back into the buildings but I also know how important it is to get them back in safely.”

A South Plainfield High School graduate, Pennisi earned a bachelor’s in biology from Montclair State University and a master’s in administration and supervision from Kean University. He has over 40 years of education experience and served most of his career (1980 to 2014) with the Dunellen School District, retiring as superintendent in 2014. Pennisi also continued to serve as an interim superintendent in both Dunellen and Netcong from 2014 to 2017. 

Pennisi and his wife, Lynn, are parents to two children, Kelly and Christopher. Over the years, he served as a coach for South Plainfield recreation soccer and T-ball and was a member and coach for both travel soccer and the South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club. In 2001, Pennisi was inducted into the South Plainfield High School Hall of Fame. 

Residents, said Pennisi, should re-elect him to the board of education because he is ‘experienced in all areas’ and, as a retired member of the community, understands the concerns people have in terms of their taxes. “As a member, I have worked to ensure that every dollar we do get is spent correctly and I genuinely have no other agenda except to make this district the best in the state,” he said, adding, “I am not running because there is something I am unhappy about. I just want to keep all the positives going.” 

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