Fulcomer Stymied In Push For Shared Services
Vicari cautions against sharing administrators
When James Fulcomer ran for a seat on the Berkeley Board of Education last year, he pledged to do what he could to share services with other school districts.
"That was a campaign commitment," he said today. "I'm doing what I can to consolidate services."
Fulcomer was trying to do just that at the May 24 school board meeting when he questioned why Superintendent Joseph H. Vicari and other school officials recommended hiring a pupil transportation supervisor.
"I think we have missed a number of opportunities over the years...to save hundreds of thousands of dollars," Fulcomer said during the meeting. "We are missing an opportunity to consolidate essential administrative positions, and it is costly to taxpayers."
Fulcomer said Central Regional officials had offered the use of their transportation coordinator for a reduced cost of between $25,000 to $30,000.
"You should save taxpayers money and generate more money for the children," he said today. "We should gradually eliminate superfluous supervisory positions."
Fulcomer then asked the board to accept the shared services committee recommendation to continue shared services discussions with the Central Regional school district.
Board President Steven M. Pellecchia repeatedly rapped his gavel as Fulcomer attempted to continue.
"Mr. Fulcomer... you are discussing a matter of litigation going on with Central Regional," Pellechia said.
"I've been muzzled," Fulcomer replied.
Fulcomer amended his recommendation that the shared services committee be allowed to continue talks with Central Regional once the district's litigation with Seaside Park has ended.
The board instead voted to table the request until the next board meeting.
In the end, the board voted 5 to 2 to appoint Barbara Fitzpatrick to the 12-month pupil transportation supervisor, at an annual salary of $59,000, effective July 1. Fulcomer and board member Salvatore Ferlise voted no. Board member James McMoyle abstained.
The exchange between Fulcomer and Pellecchia was just one of many during a sometimes bizarre meeting that lasted more than four and a half hours.
Board member Dawn M. Parks was present at the beginning of the meeting. Shortly after, the board went into closed session to discuss the "interim" superintendent position.
When they came out more than an hour later, Parks was no longer on the dais. She resigned from the board the following day, citing unprofessional conduct on the part of some board members at the closed session.
Fulcomer also asked the board to authorize a resolution allowing the look to other school districts for more shared services.
But both outgoing Superintendent of Schools Joseph H. Vicari and Berkeley Township Elementary School Principal James Roselli cautioned against sharing administrative positions.
"I think it's a buzzword," said Vicari, whose last day in the district is Thursday. "You need to be very careful with it."
Roselli said consolidating administrative positions "doesn't always work that well."
"There's a lot of personal things you lose through shared services," he said.
The district is in the midst of a superintendent search to oversee the four-person district. The board in April awarded a $6,500 contract to Leadership Advantage to conduct a search. For a chronology of the lengthy search for a permanent superintendent, click here.
In the meantime, board members authorized hiring Carole K. Morris at the May 24 meeting to serve as interim superintendent starting June 1, at a salary of $500 per day.