NANTICOKE — So long, “Sunny.”
After more than four decades with the district, including being credited with helping avoid imminent bankruptcy in the late 1990s and working since 2003 without pay, Anthony Perrone — affectionately referred to as “Sunny” by some — resigned as Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent on Tuesday evening.
Contacted at home Wednesday morning, Perrone declined comment other than to say he has had health problems that contributed to his decision to leave the district for good at the age of 72.
Board President Ryan Verazin said Perrone had contacted solicitor Vito DeLuca on Tuesday evening to convey his resignation due to health reasons, effective immediately, and that DeLuca then contacted board members. Verazin said an executive session was held and elementary principal Maryellen Scott was appointed acting superintendent.
Perrone, originally from Pittston, graduated from King’s College in 1963 and by 1966 had a full-time teaching job in the district. He became superintendent in 1996 and retired in 2003, but agreed to stay in the post, unpaid, for at least a year.
Asked at the time why he decided to stay without pay, Perrone quoted poet Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
That year became a decade with no end in sight as the board repeatedly talked him into postponing departure and staying on board. But while Perrone didn’t voice retirement plans in public, he would frequently talk of leaving during casual conversations, acknowledging the job had grown harder and his health more frail.
Even so, as recently as this month, when asked if he was planning to step down, Perrone replied, “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I left this job. I have to keep busy.”
Verazin said the board will launch a search for a new superintendent, but that details have not been worked out. “We’re in uncharted waters for this district,” he said.
He did not expect to call for a special meeting, saying the issue would likely wait until the next regular meeting Feb. 13.
The district should run smoothly in the interim, Verazin added. “We have a well-rounded administrative staff,” he said.
Verazin praised Perrone’s time with the district. “He’s probably the best leader the district has had,” he said. “I wish him nothing but the best, and I’m glad he is finally making time for himself.”
Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Bernard Prevuznak expressed surprise at the news.
“I’m shocked, but I wish him well,” Prevuznak said. “Tony Perrone has been a friend of mine for the last several years. I always appreciated his help and friendship in regard to my position here.”
Dallas Superintendent Frank Galicki lauded Perrone’s success in turning around one of the area’s poorest districts.
“Tony has done wonderful things here,” Galicki said. “There was a point where Nanticoke Area had the potential of going bankrupt, and he did some unique things to pull them out of the hole.
“I think he did an outstanding job,” Galicki said. “He will be sorely missed.”