LIVINGSTON -- Four people are running for three positions in the Livingston Union School District board elections.
Residents in the district can vote for three representatives.
The names on the ballot are:
Castellanos, 50, was born in Michoacan, but moved to Merced County when he was 17 years old.
He didn't go to high school, but he earned his GED from the Merced College Los Banos campus.
"That's the reason I want to be on the board," Castellanos said. "I want to encourage kids like I was to be motivated. I want to do something for the kids in Livingston."
Castellanos has two children who passed through the school district and graduated from Livingston High School.
His son is now studying at California State University, Sacramento, and his daughter is at Merced College.
He said his most prominent qualifications for the job include having put children through the system and a previous stint on the board in the mid-'80s.
His main focus as a board member would be to raise test scores, Castellanos said.
Correia, 49, has been on the school board for four years.
A self-employed almond farmer, Correia has been a Livingston resident since he immigrated from Madera Island, Portugal, at 13 years old.
He's interested in serving another term because of his children. He has five of them. The youngest is eight months and the oldest is a 14-year-old freshman at Livingston High School.
"I am there with my children, so I will be involved with the district for a long time. I just want to be aware and sure that things are going to be good for them," he said. "I want to make sure they will have a safe school environment and quality teachers."
Correia said the main issue during a second term would be maintaining district programs, given state budget cuts.
"Even though we had a state crisis and a school crisis (this year), we are proud to not have cut any jobs of any kind," he said.
He hopes the trend continues.
"No cuts were ever discussed, and I don't think we will get to that point," he said.
Kirihara, 65, has served the board for four years.
She's running for school board again because "it takes a village" to educate children, she said.
"They're our future and we need to do the best we can for them," she said.
Kirihara has a master's degree in education and taught various grades at area schools for 25 years.
"I think Livingston Union is one of the finest school systems that I've seen," she said.
The new school board will deal with one crucial issue, Kirihara said.
"We'll be changing superintendents," she said. "I want to be able to provide a smooth transition in our leadership so our staff will feel completely supported and our children will notice no change in the excellence of education we seek to provide for them."
In other areas, she would like to see the district offer expanded courses in vocational education and the dual language program.
Ruth, 65, is the current board clerk. She has served for eight years.
A retired elementary school teacher, she has worked for the Merced City, Ballico-Cressey, Winton, Atwater and Livingston school districts. She also worked as a professor at CSU Stanislaus and University of the Pacific.
Ruth is proud of the programs the district has created during her board tenure.
"We have so many things that we put in place that I think are very visionary, like the dual language academy, extended day and summer school activities," she said. "Our test scores are out of sight for this area."
Ruth said she is running for reelection because positive attitudes and mutual respect are the norm in the district.
"We have a philosophy in the district of 'no excuses,'" she said. "We are just going to do a good job."
Reporter Danielle E. Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.