Louis J. Tuminaro says he is running for a seat on the school board because he feels the recent debate about schools Superintendent Joseph H. Vicari has removed the focus from students and education.
“There is a lot of bickering back and forth,” said Tuminaro, who is running as a team with Gerard Reuter. “We want to be the voice of the community.”
Tuminaro, 40, previously served one term on the board, from 2007 to 2010. He lost a bid for a second term in 2010.
The Deal Avenue resident has lived in town for eight years. He and his wife Gina have two children who attend schools in the Berkeley district.
Tuminaro is a maintenance worker for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's Garden State Parkway Division. He attended Brookdale Community College.
Vicari, who returned to the district on April 1 after a two-year absence, had offered to work for free. But state statutes require that certified school administrators be paid a salary, so Vicari agreed to come back for $18,500, with no benefits. A previous school board did not renew his contract in 2008, a move Vicari said was political and engineered by the local and county Democratic organizations.
"Vicari has done a fine job for the six years he has been there," Tuminaro said. "Now that we want to talk consolidation, there is no one better for the job than Mr. Vicari."
Tuminaro said Vicari returning to his position for a reduced salary “saves the taxpayers money, so I am all for it.”
He also weighed in on the debate on whether the district should be funding a three-day outdoor education program for sixth-graders to Stokes State Forest. Funding was removed two years ago, but reinstated this past year. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the trip in the coming year, but a non-profit foundation has been formed to raise funds so that the trip continues.
Tuminaro said he personally supports the Stokes trip, but he would have liked to have seen the issue presented to voters as a ballot question.
“I’m for the program," he said. "We have to look out for the best interests of the children. If we can fit it in the budget let’s go for it.”
Tuminaro stressed that his primary goal is the best interests of the children.
“I really feel we do not need to eliminate teacher positions," he said. "There is talk of building a $600,000 building. That is not a good use of revenues. More teachers and better teachers are what are needed for this town.”