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Five competing in Ceres School Board races
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Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Ceres School Board for the Nov. 3 election, including incumbents Teresa Guerrero and Betty Davis, past appointee Edgar Romo, and challengers Valli Wigt, Lourdes Perez and Brian Kline.

Guerrero faces opposition from Wigt in District 3.

Guerrero, 54, was first elected to the Ceres School Board in 2005. She currently serves as executive director of the Parent Institute For Quality Education (Modesto)

"An immigrant daughter of a migrant farm worker, I grew up working summers in agriculture," said Guerrero. "The experience instilled in me a hard work ethic and determination that I do all I can to help all children succeed."

If re-elected, Guerrero said one of her top priorities would be to continue to increase parental involvement because it's a key factor in student performance.

Guerrero has been busy campaigning just like all the other candidates. She's made phone calls, visited homes and schools, and placed yard signs.

"The first time, there was a lot of adrenaline," she said. "This time around it feels a little different. It's more serious. I've taken more ownership. I've been here for four years. This is what I want to do. If I come back, I'll be ecstatic."

Wigt, a retired teacher, spent a combined 34 years working for K-6 schools in Ceres and Oakdale.

Valli, 56, believes that if children are encouraged and supported by their families to study hard in school, they will be successful.

"My experience as a mentor teacher, master teacher, teacher in charge, Curriculum Council member, CUTA representative, Ag in the Classroom ambassador, music chaperone, Ceres Boosters, and School to Career coordinator allow me to be well informed and well rounded," she said. "I organized Career Days for 20 years, interacting with many business organizations, and as a docent for McHenry Mansion, member of Persephone, California Women in Ag, and the Greek Orthodox Church, I feel I possess a variety of perspectives."

Wigt decided to run for School Board because it's another way to help students.

"I retired but I don't want to leave education," said Wigt, who currently teaches for the after-school program at Westport Elementary. "I'd definitely attack this job with the same motivation. I don't do things halfway."

Wigt encourages all parents to take an active role in their children's education.

"That's key," she said. "If they're not behind you and stress it's important, you're not going to try as hard."

Valli recently created campaign fliers and pens to pass out.

"Wherever I've been, I've talked with people," she said. "I attended the La Rosa fundraiser last week."

If elected, Wigt said she'd like to establish a rapport with the other board members.

"We should all work together and be cohesive," she said.

Perez, 35, is running for the District 5 seat, which Romo was appointed to in 2008 following current California State assemblyman Bill Berryhill's departure.

She is program coordinator of Ceres Partnership For Healthy Children and former manager of the Ceres Drive-In and Flea Market. Both of her daughters attend Ceres schools.

Perez said she's anxious to serve and make a difference.

Her campaign sign reads: "Improving Schools Today For A Better Tomorrow."

"A genuine commitment to student academic success and well being is what drives my compassion to serve our schools and the voters within the District," said Perez. "As a fiscal conservative, my business knowledge and experience allows me to work within a budget in order to meet the needs of our students during these difficult economic times."

Perez wants to see a number of things accomplished if elected. Priorities are as follows: safety on school sites and campuses through resource officers, maintaining top test score rankings through continued modernization, quality learning materials, and by offering competitive salaries in order to attract quality teachers, continued expansion of vocational education. She believes in ongoing improvement of professional career-oriented curriculum, higher emphasis on student physical health and nutrition, diligent use of limited resources provided to educate children, discouragement of truancy before it becomes habitual, helping to further the partnership between schools and the city regarding mutually beneficial joint use of facilities, and remaining committed to educational choice, and local control.

Romo, a chiropractor who plans to open his own practice in the very near future, believes that the keys to a great district consist of constructive communication and building an atmosphere of devotion among the board, staff, students, parents and community. Edgar and his wife Sheela have resided in Ceres for seven years. Their first child, Danika, was born in August.

"As a businessman and a provider of health services, I bring to the Ceres School Board the passion to help ensure every student receives the very best from Ceres Unified School District," the 35-year-old said. "I live to ensure that all students learn, grow knowledgeable, build on their skills and become confident citizens, capable of succeeding in their future work and their personal and family life."

Romo said he's looking forward to continuing to serve.

"The board that's in place right now - the seven of us - are working really good together," he said. "The communication between all of us is awesome. I don't know if new board members would have the same goals. We want to continue what we started. The API scores are phenomenal. It has put Ceres on the map, compared to other schools. The district is doing great right now. But there's always room for improvement."

Davis, 67. faces opposition from 24-year-old Kline for the at-large seat.

A former Ceres Unified teacher and librarian who spent 26-plus years in education, Davis has lived in Ceres for more than 40 years.

"I find the position as a trustee to be challenging," said Davis, who taught kindergarten at Walter White and Virginia Parks the last 22 years of her teaching career. "During these last four years, I have tried to understand what is needed for our students, staff and community. My actions have been based on my knowledge of Ceres and my experience in education."

Davis is a proponent of keeping class sizes low in grades K-3, putting fully-credentialed teachers in the classroom, and maintaining safe, secure and functioning schools, She's been an active member of the community for over four decades.

"I'd like to continue what I'm doing," Davis said. "I've put in a lot of time and energy. I want everyone to vote."

Kline is a fourth-generation Ceres High graduate and the youngest candidate.

"I took a semester off from Chapman University so I could run for School Board," said Brian, who wants to become a government or history teacher in the future. "I want to make a difference and help Ceres Unified move forward. I think we're standing still right now. It's based on my talks with teachers, parents, students, classified employees and me actually being there on campus to observe it when I was a P.E. aid. My number one concern is elementary school education. The kids are getting cheated because of the way the system is set up. It's geared toward testing instead of teaching. It doesn't allow the students to be creative. We're giving them the answers because we want them to pass the tests."

Kline was dismissed as head coach of Ceres High School's boys water polo program in 2006 for an undisclosed reason. Brian contends that he didn't do anything wrong.

"It's a non-issue because of the nature of the offense," he said. "People don't know the facts. If somebody wants to ask me, I'm an open book."

Incumbent Mike Welsh is running unopposed in District 2. An appointee to the Ceres School Board in 2004, Welsh was elected a year later.