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Berkeley Board of Education Votes 5 to 1 to Bring Back Vicari

Former superintendent will be paid $18,500 for a year

The Berkeley Board of Education voted 5 to 1 Wednesday night to bring back former schools superintendent Joseph H. Vicari to serve for a term of one year, beginning on April 1.

Vicari, who also is a longtime Republican Ocean County freeholder, had offered to work for free. But state law requires that certified school professionals have to be paid a salary, board President James J. Byrnes said after the meeting.

"The state mandates that when you're certified, you  have to get paid x amount of dollars," Byrnes said. "I didn't know that until we consulted with the conflict attorney. Mr. Vicari offered zero, but he can't do zero."

 So the board settled on paying Vicari $18,500, or $71 a day, the lowest the district could possibly pay, he said.

Full details of Vicari's contract could not be obtained Wednesday night. But Byrnes said the former superintendent will be given 43 days off without pay during the coming year, which includes vacation, sick and personal days.

"We got Mr. Vicari back in," board member Steven Pellechia said after the meeting.  Pellechia had lobbied to bring Vicari back almost since his departure in 2009.

"We brought Mr. Vicari back for two reasons," Pellechia said. "Two years ago he was illegally kicked out of being superintendent, and we have been fighting ever since to bring him back. And we're going to save about $150,000 in salaries."

Vicari's selection ends more than a year and a half of searching for a permanent superintendent. Vicari served six years as superintendent of the four-school district before a previous board decided not to renew his contract in 2008.

He left the district in June 2009, when his contract ran out. Interim Superintendent Arlene J. Lippincott has been serving in the position ever since.

"Arleen has done a great job as interim superintendent," Byrnes said. "I was just reluctant to get into a three-year contract continuing with Arleen as superintendent when we are looking to consolidate and share services."

Board member Dawn Parks cast the lone dissenting vote at the brief Feb. 23 meeting.

The road to Vicari's eventual return has been a long and complicated one.

Board members voted 7-0 at the Oct. 7 meeting to authorize board Attorney John C. Sahradnik to begin negotiations with Lippincott for a possible three-year contract. 

The board also voted unanimously at the Oct. 7 meeting to advertise the vacant principal's position at the Bayville Elementary School. Lippincott has been filling that role, along with the interim superintendent's position.

But in December, board member John Bacchione and board President James J. Byrnes invited Vicari - a longtime Republican Ocean County freeholder - to drop by the district offices. Vicari has said he thought it was a holiday invitation and had no idea it was a personnel committee meeting. Bacchione and Byrnes asked him to return as superintendent until a permanent replacement could be found. Vicari offered to work free of charge, with no benefits.

Since then, the board has gone back and forth on who should be at the helm of the four-school district. Board members voted  5 to 1 at the Feb. 3 meeting to keep a motion on the floor made by board member Steven Pellechia to bring Vicari back as interim superintendent.

But they voted again to table the motion, after it was determined that a conflict attorney was needed. Sahradnik  — who serves as county counsel to the Ocean County Board of Freeholders  — has recused himself from anything involving Vicari, a longtime freeholder. Parks voted no on the first vote and board member Patrick Riley abstained. Both Parks and Riley abstained on the second vote.

"It's a red letter day for the taxpayers," said South Seaside Park resident James Fulcomer after the meeting last night. Fulcomer is president of the Berkeley Republican Club.

Vicari had a recent death in the family and could not be reached for comment last night.

sara February 24, 2011 at 01:04 AM
THIS IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO ARLENE. EMBARRASSING TO OUR SCHOOLS FOR ALL HER HARD WORK. I THOUGHT HE WAS DOING IT FOR NOTHING. ONE YEAR PAY LIKE HE DIDN'T KNOW THAT . THIS IS SO POLITICAL . WHAT ARE THE BOARD MEMBERS THINKING. OH YEAH HOW MANY REPUBLICANS WE HAVE ANY WE CAN WIN THE VOTE THATS HOW THEY THINK. WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS. HOW MANY TIMESDO WE SAY THIS . PLEASE LETS KEEP TRACK NOW HOW MANY TIMES HE WILL BE IN HIS THE OFFICE WORKING FOR THE SCHOOL . HOW MANY TIMES HIS PICTURE IS N THE PAPER FOR OTHER THINGS. YOU ALL WATCH BEEN THERE AND WE WILL BE THERE AGAIN. DID HE SAVE US MONEY NO JUST NEEDS A HEADLINE. LETS SEE HOW MANY KIDS NAMES HE KNOWS AND TEAHERS . THATS THE FUNNY PART. BUT LETS GIVE HIM A SALARY. I THOUGHT TOO IT WAS TILL WE FOUND SOMEBODY ELSE FOR THE JOB . NOW ITS A YEAR ALL BULL CRAP. PUT THE BOOTS ON IT'S REALLY DEEP HERE IN BERKELEY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL.
John M February 24, 2011 at 11:53 AM
Welcome back Mr. Vicari. Do your best and remember, as with all tough choices, you can't please everybody, like those with CAP LOCK STUCK ON.
Christine Dwight February 24, 2011 at 12:38 PM
He was voted in 5-1, not that it would have made a difference but where were the other 3 board members? If they were going to vote on something as important as the superintendent, shouldn't they have made an effort to be there?
Bayville Resident February 24, 2011 at 12:50 PM
Where is our MAYOR??? Absent as always when the board meets....time to vote him OUT!!!!!
Chuck Provenzano February 24, 2011 at 02:07 PM
The school board is an autonomous board that the Mayor has no influence over. My question is where are all of the PARENTS. If every parent bothered to vote in an election or shared their concerns at a board meeting, then maybe politics would leave the district.
Chuck Provenzano February 24, 2011 at 02:11 PM
And by the way the school board never voted to fire Joe Vicari, he chose to retire after being told that his contract MIGHT not be removed
Chuck Provenzano February 24, 2011 at 02:11 PM
renewed
Matt DelPrete February 24, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I found out the hard way how tied up politics is in schools. I ran for Berkeley Board of Ed, really opened my eyes to the "political process". A few are in it for the kids, some are not. That's life.
Dawn Parks February 24, 2011 at 02:46 PM
I can tell you why all board members were not there. If you recall our workshop meetings are scheduled on Tuesdays. This meeting was suppose to be held on Tuesday February 22,2011. But,Some board members could not make it to that meeting because they had to work. Plus it would of disrupted there voting process. So, the meeting was changed to Wednesday February 23, 2011. Myself and Mr. Riley made it know that we both could not make the Wednesday February 23,2011 meeting. But, nothing was change for us. The reasons why are: I (Dawn Parks) also had to work on Wednesday February 23,2011. Lucky for me I have a boss that lives in Berkeley Township and she knew how important this meeting was for me to attend. As for Mr. Riley he was at a conference for disabled children. A foundation that he and his family have been running for years. His plans could not be changed. As for Mr. Guarasio he did have baskeball practice with his son last night. Not only that he couldn’t vote anyway. As for Marlana, It has always been an issue with her working schedule. My point is they can rearrange schedules for everyone else, but only to there convenience. Dawn Parks
Mike Mead February 24, 2011 at 02:47 PM
It doesn't matter how much tax dollars are spent on the childeren of badville they will always be dumb.
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 06:39 AM
PARKER is the only Democratic operative left on the Berkeley school board who supports illegal firings and opposes people working for FREE to save money to help reduce the budget due to the gang of thugs she answers to who were thrown out.
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 06:44 AM
How come Democratic Operative Parker of Berkeley BOE, Mayor Jason Varano answering, liberal spend thrift, and no voting hypocrite for a FREE worker is so opposed?
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 06:48 AM
The last question is why did Berkeley BOE Democratic Operative Parker work with Bob Haelig of TROOC the illegal organization under State Election Board Ethics and Criminal investigation to unseat Carl Block for Clerk to help her BOSS Mayor Jason Varano?
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 07:41 AM
The last question is why did Berkeley BOE Democratic Operative Parker work with Bob Haelig of TROOC the illegal organization under State Election Board Ethics and Criminal investigation to unseat Carl Block for Clerk to help her BOSS Mayor Jason Varano? It is a known fact that Parker is upset because BOSS varano saw a Vicari re-appointment as a loss for his re-election not a gain for the children and taxpayers of Berkeley. Parker and Mayor Varano shame on you all.
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 07:49 AM
Follow the link of Bob Haelig with TROOC, Parker with her defeated Democratic Berkeley BOE operatives, Mayor Varano, and the expenditures to Promotional Specialties owned by Bob Haelig. Also, his Toms River BOE seasonal candidate daughter works for Bob Haelig of TROOC's business promotional specialties that makes LOTS OF CASH from Mayor Varano just check out the vouchers in town hall. Last but least and please, don't forget the NJ Election Commission Ethics and Criminal investigation, still not closed after two years that his daughter who ran for TR BOE and works for him doing Berkeley printing . Sh3 was on the mailing that was illegal without disclosures or reporting for a SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION with candidates for NOVEMBER partisan elections including a seat that would be endorsed for Mayor Varano.
Christine Dwight February 27, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Who is Parker?? Do you mean Parks? How can anyone take what you say seriously when you dont even have the name correct?
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Eagleguy, I mean Mayor, I mean Parker, I mean Parks, the days of the Democratic crash and burn politics are washed up with your boys McGreevey, Torecelli, Corzines, and your other bosses as to the Boss Varano/Parker/TROOC Haelig printing scandal in town and head advisor to the Berkeley School board races amongst Congressional Democratic campaigns state-wide is the one, the only, TROOC man himself, Bob Haelig. Park and Varano the party is over and the work has begun to rid the town of Berkeley of the last of the public troth feeders. Of course you are upset the new guy is working for free you won't get a donation.
Samsonite February 27, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Interpretation: Varano/Parker/Haelig & TROOC's boy who illegally fired super employee: Berkeley board of education member reprimanded for violating ethics statutesBy The Star-Ledger Continuous News Desk September 01, 2010, 10:09AM BERKELEY — A township board of education member has been reprimanded for voting on appointments regarding his wife, a sixth-grade teacher, and violating other ethics statutes, according to a report on APP.com. Thomas Guarascio says his six violations were "an honest mistake," the report said. School officials in New Jersey are not allowed to participate in actions when family members...
Concerned April 22, 2011 at 05:21 PM
sara please tell me you are not a product of the Berkeley Township School system.

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