Dr. Richard Tomko named Superintendent of the Year

Sparta. The Sparta resident and Belleville superintendent of schools has been recognized for his leadership in learning, communication, and community involvement.

14 Jul 2020 | 04:14

Dr. Richard Tomko of Sparta has been recognized as the 2020-21 Essex County Superintendent of the Year.

This prestigious award is given to a superintendent who exhibits leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and community involvement, with an understanding of regional, national, and international issues.

“Dr. Tomko truly cares about the students and staff,” said Belleville School Board President Christine Lamparello. “In his five years with us, he has made the Belleville School District a better place in which to learn and work.”

In 2019, under Tomko’s leadership, Belleville was recognized as a District of Distinction and a “High Performing District” by the New Jersey Department of Education.

He has worked with the school board and administration to eliminate a $4.2 million deficit. A districtwide Chromebook initiative followed, with new elementary, middle, and high school textbooks and e-texts also adopted.

In 2018, Tomko spearheaded a successful campaign to pass a $48 million construction project while also securing 50 percent state funding. A second, $4 million project to rebuild an athletic complex, accessible to all students and township residents, was also approved by district voters.

Over the past two years, the district has received nearly $4 million in additional state aid for preschool expansion. Tomko guided the district’s newest campus at the Hornblower Early Education Building.

Tomko has reinstated the district’s carpentry program, and established programs in apprenticeships, community outreach, and adult learning. He was recognized for implementing the Rise and Shine program, which provides free breakfast to all district students.


Tomko continues to research the “expectations gap” between high schools and college to improve student readiness for higher education. He has also done research in student safety, early childhood literacy, bullying, and remedial English.

He is currently enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program at The Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School and is earning a Certificate in Advanced Educational Leadership from Harvard University. He serves as an adjunct professor in educational leadership and graduate counseling at Manhattan College, Seton Hall University, Montclair State University, and Centenary University.

Tomko received the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve through his receipt of the Patriot Award in 2018 and the Above and Beyond Award in 2019.

Tomko was appointed by the governor to serve on the School Ethics Commission, and serves as a trustee on the New Jersey Educational Services Commission. He is also a member on the Sussex County Planning Board.

He is married, has four children, and dedicates his spare time volunteering as a coach for local recreation sports teams and other non-profit organizations.

“This well-deserved honor is an affirmation of his vision and effective leadership,” said Joseph Zarra, Belleville Alumnus and Essex County Executive Superintendent of Schools. “Dr. Tomko is committed to the Belleville School District and his work has maximized opportunities for Belleville students.”

Academic achievements
Master’s Degree in Educational Administration, Seton Hall University
Doctor of Philosophy, with a concentration in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy, Seton Hall University
Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law
Graduate Certificate in Community and Economic Development, Pennsylvania State University
Certificate in Leadership, Harvard University
Graduate Certificate in The Brain, Teaching, and Learning, The Johns Hopkins University
Executive Certificate in Transformational Non-Profit Leadership, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business