A Coaldale father asked the Panther Valley School Board Thursday to provide help for students to handle the recent death of a classmate.

Jason Gilbert asked what counseling services were available for students coping with the loss of Nolan Ritchie, 7, who accidentally drowned with his grandmother, Wanda Wentz, as they swam in the Lehigh River on June 22.

Gilbert said his own children were distraught, and there were many Panther Valley students who attended Nolan's funeral. He said that in times past, counseling was made available to students immediately following the death of a classmate.

He asked if counseling was made available following Nolan's death.

"As a parent of not just a child who was affected by it, but other children, I'm very disappointed," he said.

Superintendent Rosemary Porembo said there is a counseling team that all 14 districts in the Carbon-Lehigh IU share.

"It is not throughout the summer, but we can work on this when students come back," she said.

Gilbert also suggested teaching basic water safety, and that the district teach summer safety to elementary students. Porembo said those were good suggestions, and that the district does teach basic safety measures, such as wearing a helmet while biking.

Also on Thursday, the school board accepted the retirement of longtime custodian and track coach George Mitzen. Mitzen worked for the district for 23 years.

In other matters, the board:

*Reappointed solicitor Robert T. Yurchak at a retainer of $7,250, plus an hourly rate of $90 for work done outside of meetings;

*Approved Yurchak for work in the civil action filed against the district by Christopher Verta, who is suing because he believes the district should have returned a fork lift that was stored in a building the district bought from Carbon County at a tax sale;

*Paid $17,000 to J.P. Smith Contractors for work down on light standards at the Panther Valley stadium in Lansford;

*Approved William Lukshides, Tori Koerber and Tonia Miletto as substitute teachers at $110 per day;

*Hired Krystle Willing-Tiedeman as a short-term high school English substitute effective Aug. 27 through about Nov. 5 at $135 per day;

*Approved Shelly Sassaman, Tamaqua; Peter Baddick, Lehighton, and Ron Slivka, Summit Hill, as school physicians at $2,000 each;

*Approved Richard Vermillion as school dentist at $600;

*Retained the Vanak Detective Agency for school security the upcoming school year at $15.75 per man-hour;

*Extended a three-year contract with waste management for $102,827.22;

*Agreed to lease to own computer equipment from LAM Systems for $84,012 over three years. the cost covers 100 computers in three buildings;

*Agreed to purchase four vehicles a cafeteria truck, a dump truck, a delivery van and a pickup truck from Fairway Motors of Hazleton at $123,325.12. Fairway offered the best deal, board members said.