Newly-elected Berkeley Township Board of Education member James Fulcomer says he will push for more shared services with Central Regional as soon as he is sworn in.
And if his interview with Patch is any indication of his steadfastness, he's ready to go.
“People have given us a message to, at the very least, consolidate support services,” he said. “We need to move as quickly as we can…to avoid layoffs of teachers and limit class sizes.”
Fulcomer and his team, newly elected board of education candidates Noriko Kowalewski and Salvatore Ferlise, ran on two major platforms - the consolidation of services with the Central Regional school district and the eventual merging of the two districts into one K-12 district.
Both measures are meant to decrease school costs, while keeping property taxes in line, he said.
Some examples of combined services include busing, curriculum directors and director of special services.
“There is an enormous amount of duplication of services in management and their support staff,” he said. "There are far smaller districts that do it with only one spot."
Fulcomer would like to see a resolution drafted as soon as possible to authorize the Berkeley Township Board of Education to negotiate a formal shared services arrangement with the Central Regional school district.
“But, we need a majority on the Board of Education to pass it," he said. "We hope that the school board will listen to this and vote on consolidation of services. Central Regional is in a crisis mode. We're calling for the two school boards to move quickly."
Once that is in the works, he and his team would like the process of the consolidation of the schools to begin.
“I personally think the ideal set-up is to have all five towns consolidate with Central,” he said.
By five towns, Fulcomer is referring to the sending districts of Island Heights, Ocean Gate, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park along with Berkeley Township
Fulcomer said he felt the defeated Berkeley Township school budget might have passed if voters were more knowledgeable about the budget process.
“It [the ballot] doesn’t say 'no tax increase,' ” Fulcomer said. "I suspect if on the ballot it said 'no tax increase,' the outcome would have been different.”
Although there was no tax increase, voters here defeated the $26,512,541 tax levy portion of the Berkeley Township Board of Education's school budget by 2,101 votes to 1,929 votes.
Noriko Kowalewski was the top vote getter in the race for the three, three-year terms on the board with 2,499 votes. Ferlise was second with 2,210 votes, followed by Fulcomer with 2,185 votes.