BERNARDS TWP., NJ - At Monday's public meeting, the Bernards Board of Education interviewed four applicants for an 11-month vacancy on the school board before unanimously voting to approve Rhonda Dunten. Over the years, Dunten has volunteered within the district in several capacities.

"It was a hard decision," said Board President Linda Wooldridge who, along with Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian, spoke of the high caliber of each of the applicants.

Dunten, also sworn in and seated at Monday's meeting, will fill out the remaining 11 months of a seat left vacant when Board Member Elaine Kusel resigned last November.

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During her interview speech before the public, Dunten said she would seek re-election in November to continue a long-term commitment to serving.

Dunten has three sons, two of whom graduated in recent years from Ridge High School, and one who remains as a high school junior. She has a PhD degree in biochemistry, and has been active in a number of school Parent Teacher Organizations, including the William Annin PTO, and other school activities.

Other applicants for the vacant board position were Lauren Salko, Ameeth Sankaranarayanan and Liz Vinhal.

Markarian observed that all of the board members were well educated and all their speeches showed they had the best interest of the children in mind. He added the board always is looking for qualified residents to serve.

"The entire board just felt we had such a good group of candidates," Wooldridge said.