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Bethlehem Board of Education gets started with new year

Even though graduations have just wrapped up, as of the beginning of July, the 2009-2010 school year has officially begun.

The Bethlehem Board of Education held its organizational meeting Wednesday, July 1, to welcome its newest member and vote for officers.

Elsmere Elementary's Parent Teacher Association President Charmaine Wijeyesinghe won her first three-year term on the board in May in a five-way race for two open seats. She won her seat along with long-standing board member Lynne Lenhardt, who will serve her eighth three-year term.

Bethlehem Central School District spokesman Matt Leon said the board unanimously voted for vice president James Dering to serve as the board's new president and board member Lisa Allendorph as vice president.

Dering will replace former President James Lytle, who did not seek another term this year.

Dering was elected to the board in June of 2005 and will be serving his current term until 2011. He grew up in Bethlehem and is an alumnus of the district. Dering holds a bachelor's degree in business management from Ithaca College and a law degree from Albany Law School.

He is currently the acting deputy bureau chief of the office of the state's Attorney General's Health Care Bureau. Before that, he served as a deputy general counsel of the state's Department of Health and as a partner in an Albany law firm.

Dering and his wife, Cynthia, have a daughter who is a Bethlehem Elementary School student. He also coached in the Bethlehem Soccer Club for seven seasons, serves on a corporate board and is a former church trustee.

Allendorph was first elected to the board in May 2007. She has lived in Delmar since 1994 with her husband and two children, both of whom are Bethlehem High School students. She has been active in the school district since the mid 1990s, serving on the board of the Slingerlands and Elsmere PTAs, President's Council and Citizens' Budget Group.

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