The Christmas spirit appeared to have embraced the Panther Valley School Board on Tuesday, bringing the two warring factions together in unexpected harmony.

The board, currently composed of eight members with the resignation of Anthony Pondish, has been split on a contentious 4-4 on almost every issue.

But last night, peace reigned. Mostly.

The board, which has twice failed to reorganize, unanimously elected Jeff Markovich to serve as president and Michelle Markovich as secretary, only for that meeting. Until the board appoints a replacement for Pondish applications are being accepted until the end of the business day Jan. 9 temporary officers will have to be elected for each meeting.

The board expects to interview applicants prior to the regular meeting on Jan. 12. The interviews will be open to the public.

The board accepted Pondish's resignation. It now has 30 days to name a replacement. There was some discussion about the actual date Pondish resigned: His letter was received by the board in late November, but could not be officially accepted because the two factions left each side without the required 5-person quorum needed to conduct business.

Hunsicker said the policy should reflect the actual date mentioned in Pondish's letter; solicitor Robert T. Yurchak agreed.

In other matters, the board accepted, with regret, the resignation of longtime elementary school secretary Mary Ann Hunsicker. Hunsicker's calm, friendly presence graced the office for 29 years.

"She is very much missed," said Superintendent Rosemary Porembo.

The board also:

*Agreed, with Angst not voting, to place an employee, identified only by number and with no details released, on paid administrative leave effective retroactively to Nov. 21 and to continue to Jan. 12, 2012;

*Approved a revised $69,500, one-year contract with Water Wellness to lease the high school swimming pool effective Jan. 1, 2012. The board had approved the contract in October, but it was since changed on minor points, Porembo said. The points included the start date, changed from the end of this month; the entities changed from Maria Zupko and Nicole Bailey of New Ringgold to the newly-incorporated Water Wellness.

The school board in June agreed to close the pool in light of a $1.3 million cutback in state funding.

Students and the public will be allowed to use the pool but will have to pay a fee.

*Hired Michael O'Donnell and Richard Bower Jr. as wrestling coaches. O'Donnell will forfeit his $1,750 salary and work as a volunteer; Bower will be paid $1,500;

*Hired Jill Zwiesdak as assistant softball coach at $1,800;

*Accepted Alyssa Baranovich as volunteer girls' basketball coach. This move triggered the sole breach in the peace when School Director Angst took a shot at the team's recent performance at a meet against Jim Thorpe. That prompted return fire from School Director Anthony DeMarco, who told Angst he owed the district and the team an apology for the critical remarks Angst made about the team on his online blog.

School Director Koreen Nalesnik asked board members to keep Angst's blog out of the meetings; all agreed.

*Hired Rich Morgan to keep the score book at $25 per event;

*Hired Jess Cancel and John Scrapits as OAA athletic trainers for the 2012-2013 school year;

*Hired Benjamin Tkach as long-term substitute Special education teacher at the high school, effective. Jan. 3 through the end of the 2012-2013 school year at $34,685;

*Added Krystle-Dawn Willing-Tiederman to the list of substitutes for library kindergarten through twelfth grade and secondary English;

*Added Marie Rosahac to the list of Guest Teachers for next year at a rate of $85 per day;

*Approved Deborah Davison as a bus monitor for the time remaining in this year, effective immediately.