Richard D. Tomko, Ph.D., M.J.
Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Richard Tomko has had numerous administrative responsibilities during his 21-year career in educational administration. He has been a building administrator at the middle and secondary levels and responsible for district-wide curriculum, assessment, innovative program initiatives, technology, and professional development while in central office positions. Prior to his arrival in the Belleville N.J. Public Schools District, Dr. Tomko was the Director of Athletics and an Assistant Principal in the Dunellen Public Schools District. Several years later, he began his tenure with the Elmwood Park Public Schools District as middle school principal in 2002 and after one year, Dr. Tomko was asked to assume the position of principal of the high school. He was instrumental in re-arranging the secondary curriculum, ensuring that courses were aligned with state assessments and college readiness standards. He also began to study the achievement gaps between learners and the transition of students from 8th to 9th grade, making changes to programs and personnel to help students be successful in their classes. After two years, Dr. Tomko then served as principal of both the middle and high schools to help improve the continuity of programs in district, 6-12. During the 2009-2010 school year, Dr. Tomko was appointed Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and on July 1, 2010 he began serving as Superintendent of Schools for the school district. Over the next four and one half years as the district’s Chief Education Officer, Dr. Tomko continued to raise student aptitude; challenged students with a more rigorous curriculum; introduced a 0% increase to the general budget tax levy; created the Academy of Mathematics and Medical Sciences; evaluated teachers and administrators more thoroughly; moved the district to common core alignment; and responded fiscally by making immediate cuts to help offset a $2.2 million deficit, working with the board of education on an action plan to restore financial stability to the district within several months. New programs implemented immediately after his appointment led to major increases in SAT and Advanced Placement scores, as well as increases in score assessments for the Special Education subgroup, which helped narrow the achievement gap. Dr. Tomko enhanced district technology with the largest one-to-one student iPad2 initiative in the state of New Jersey and in January 2014 passed a $10 million school facilities referendum after obtaining 42% grant funding from the state department of education. That same year under his charge, Elmwood Park Public Schools attained the largest graduation increase in the state (11.8%) and 82% of graduates in the economically disadvantaged subgroup retained enrollment in 2 and 4-year colleges. Dr. Tomko has served in previous districts in additional administrative positions such as department supervisor, assistant principal, and director of athletics. He began his career in education teaching high school science and middle and high school English in both private and public school systems.
Dr. Tomko obtained his principal license and School Administrator certificate after earning his Master's Degree in Educational Administration (M.A.E.), and he has attained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a concentration in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University. Dr. Tomko has also earned a Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) Degree in Children’s Law and Policy from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law; a Graduate Certificate in Community and Economic Development from The Pennsylvania State University; and a certificate in Leadership for his professional studies at Harvard University. He is presently completing a Graduate Certificate Program in The Brain, Teaching, and Learning from Johns Hopkins University, and an Executive Certificate in Transformational Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business. Dr. Tomko currently serves as an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership/School Building Leadership graduate program at Manhattan College, and he mentors newly appointed administrators statewide for licensure through the New Jersey Department of Education.
Dr. Tomko continues to research the "expectations gap" and lack of articulation between secondary schools and institutions of higher education with the hope of improving student readiness for post-secondary instruction. Past formal research endeavors and publications have included student achievement gaps on statewide assessments; student safety; early childhood literacy; guidance and counseling influence on student application to post-secondary education; bullying; student perceptions of remedial English; and student readiness for college. Dr. Tomko is a 2012 cohort graduate of the National SUPES Academy and recently participated in the Harvard Graduate School of Education Leadership Institute for Superintendents: Systematic Reform in School Districts and Schools. Dr. Tomko is a change agent for creativity and problem solving and works with his administrative teams to decrease achievement gaps between demographic subgroups of learners. He has a proven record of effecting change in his current and past districts by involving families, stakeholders, and community groups in the restoration of student engagement leading to overall student success.
Since his appointment to Superintendent of Schools in the Belleville N.J. Public Schools District, the Board and administration have successfully authored and implemented an action plan to remediate fiscal concerns and eliminate a $4.2 Million deficit ending the 2014-2015 school year with a financially sound projection and budget for the upcoming school year that meets the needs of the students and includes a surplus to address emergency needs of the district. New elementary textbook series have been adopted in both Mathematics and English Language Arts; administrative realignment for greater support and oversight installed; curriculums have been updated with intensive input from content area instructors and specialists; enhancements in technology hardware and software have been made in all school buildings; a state of the art STEM lab has been designed and is functional at Belleville High School for students throughout the district on all grade levels; the creation of R.I.S.E. at the elementary schools has been implemented to provide teachers and students with an instructional period tailored to differentiated instruction, remediation, and independent learning opportunities; the grading system has been enhanced to promote rigor within lessons and provide a more competitive grade point scale to align with post-secondary requirements; a new parent portal and student information system have been established to connect teachers and parents and update parents on the everyday workload and performance of students; Board of education policies have been updated to enhance district procedures; and a Kindergarten academic screening initiative for incoming students will help identify areas of focus for students in the primary levels. The current district curriculum team and high school administration have worked to create the Academy of Engineering, Mathematics, and Medical Science and have partnered with Clara Maas Hospital to ensure this program initiative will reflect Academy STEM standards and surpass the expectations of the core curriculum. Content curriculums have been updated and exit skills infused to challenge students at every school level. During the 2016 school year, test scores for students in Belleville who either met or exceeded grade level expectations on the statewide PARCC assessment increased by 9% and 3% in English Language Arts and Mathematics, respectively from the 2015 test period. The Board Trustees and Dr. Tomko continue to work in monthly committees to lead the district mission and ensure that the vision of the district - where learners become leaders - is being supported by all aspects of the school district.
Dr. Tomko is married, has four children, and dedicates his spare time volunteering as a coach for local recreation sports teams and other non-profit organizations.