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Superintendent's Biography

Richard D. Tomko, Ph.D., M.B.A., M.J., M.A.E.

Superintendent of Schools

 

 

Dr. Richard Tomko has had numerous administrative responsibilities during his 23-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 held the positions of Director of Athletics; Assistant Principal; Principal; Assistant Superintendent; and Superintendent of Schools in several public school districts in multiple counties. He also began to research 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.

 

Since his appointment to Superintendent of Schools in the Belleville N.J. Public Schools District in 2015, the Board and administration have successfully authored and implemented an action plan to remediate fiscal concerns and eliminate a $4.2 Million deficit, ending that school year with a financially sound projection and budget that addressed the needs of all students.  A district-wide 1:1 Chromebook initiative soon after ensued while new elementary, middle, and high school textbook series and e-texts were also adopted.  A new administrative realignment for greater support and oversight was implemented, and Board policies were updated to enhance grade point average equity and district procedures. The current district curriculum team and high school administration have worked to create the Leadership Academy; Academy of Criminal Justice; and the Ralph Vellon Academy of Engineering and Medical Sciences while partnering with Clara Maas Medical Center to reflect Academy STEM standards and surpass the expectations of the science core.

 

In early 2018, Dr. Tomko spearheaded a campaign to promote and gained community support in passing a $48 Million construction referendum by a large margin. In working with the state, Dr. Tomko secured 50% funding for the taxpayers of the community through construction aid. A second project ($4 Million) to rebuild the athletic complex at Clearman Field was also designed and approved to help improve athletic facilities for all students and members of the township. Content curriculums are continuously updated to enhance academic rigor, advanced exit skills have been infused to challenge students at every school level, and a district-wide effort to ensure equity in access was started to ensure learners from diverse backgrounds and with different needs are receiving specialized programs tailored to the demands of every learner.

 

In 2019 and just 4 short years under Dr. Tomko’s leadership in district, the Belleville Public Schools District was recognized as a District of Distinction (DA) for its RISE and Shine program and a “High Performing District” by the New Jersey Department of Education for raising the percentages of the Quality Single Assurance Continuum (QSAC) by 53% in the Instruction and Program category and 54% in Fiscal Management. 

 

Dr. Tomko continues to work with his Board in monthly committees to lead the district mission and ensure that the vision of the district, where all students can learn, is being supported by all aspects of the school district. In 2021, the district expanded its life skills program with the addition of two houses to assist special populations with programs necessary for transition beyond graduation. The district actively competed to receive approximately $10 Million in preschool expansion aid which, along with the creation of the Hornblower Early Childhood Center (HECC) on Ralph Street, has led to the preschool “universe” in the township reaching 90% where it was less than 10% prior to Dr. Tomko’s arrival in 2015.

 

The 2022-2023 school year will include the opening of the Belleville Middle School South Annex with parking structure and the new 25,000 sq. foot indoor training facility. Stakeholders will also recognize the superintendent and Board’s commitment to sustainable energy with the construction of solar and wind projects around the district campuses, the mobilization of electric school buses, as well as a teaching greenhouse that will host a horticultural center. Academically, the district continues to focus on the learning regression from COVID-19 with the expansion of the Summer Bridge Program and increased tutoring sessions for students at all grade levels. The school year will also see the start of the JR ROTC program; high school Anatomage Laboratory; and the extension of learning opportunities to include the Law Enforcement, Fire Science, and Public Safety Academy and the Culinary Science Academy.
  
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 Business Administration (M.B.A.) from The Johns Hopkins University; a Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) Degree in Children’s Law and Policy from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law; a Certificate in Advanced Educational Leadership (CAEL) from Harvard University; a Graduate Certificate in Community and Economic Development from The Pennsylvania State University; a Graduate Certificate in The Brain, Teaching, and Learning from The Johns Hopkins University; and an Executive Certificate in Transformational Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business.  He is presently enrolled in the Master of Science program in Applied Analytics (M.S.) at Columbia University. Dr. Tomko currently serves as an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership/School Counseling graduate programs at Manhattan College, Montclair State University, and Centenary University. He was appointed by the Governor to serve as a Commissioner on the School Ethics Commission, sits as a member on the Sparta Environmental Commission, and has also served as a Trustee on the New Jersey Educational Services Commission (NJESC).  

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 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.  


Dr. Tomko was named Essex County Superintendent of the Year in 2020 for exhibiting leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and active participation in community involvement with an understanding of regional, national, and international issues.  He has been honored with receiving the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award and recognized by the United States Department of Defense through his receipt of the Patriot Award in 2018 and the Above and Beyond award in 2019.  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.