Maverick TR School Board Members Call for Reforms
Three of the newest Toms River Board of Education members who were swept into office by a tsunami of public discontent over the Ritacco corruption scandal, are calling for reforms.
Ben Giovine, Loreen Torrone and Alex Pavliv, were elected as the "Clean Slate" team. They issued a press release Friday saying that the culture that existed when Ritacco was in office must be cleaned up.
Giovine says "I think that the sentencing that came down Friday, shows that the board certainly needs a new focus on reform and transparency and I think that if you look at how Mike Ritacco managed to handle a criminal conspiracy right under our noses, clearly any reasonable person would say, you know, we need to reform and put new reforms on the board to prevent this from happening again."
Giovine says changes can start by taking guidance from the State Board of Education and changes put in place by other school districts. He says the reform his team is calling for included the creation of a personnel committee to oversee hiring, televising and streaming school board meetings and allowing more public oversight of the district's $200 million dollar budget that would include retaining a public vote on the school budget.
Board member Loreen Torron says, "The main job of the Board is to oversee the Superintendent and the budget, yet, the administration has not provided the proper budget details. If the system does not change, she says, we risk driving into the same ditch as before."
However, Giovine says that members of the "Clean Slate" team have brought a number of these measures to the board and they have not received the support that would allow them to pass. He says, "Unfortunately, some of the support we're not receiving are from people that had served during the time that Mike Ritacco was in power. So I feel that having a fresh start on the Board of Education would be a good direction for us right now."
Giovine says for starters it will be up to the voters of Toms River to decide if they want to bring in new change to the school district through their vote this November.