Recently retired teacher and administrator Barbara Cowan, along with incumbents Diane Gibson-Gray and Claire Smith appear headed to seats on Antioch Unified School District's board of trustees.

Nine candidates were running for three vacant seats on the board. Trustee Walter Ruehlig did not seek re-election.

Cowan has 19.5 percent of the vote thus far, while Gibson-Gray has 15.9 percent and Smith 13.0. Jack Yeager is in fourth with 11.0 percent of the vote.

Three years removed from serious questions about its solvency, Antioch has stayed afloat using deficit spending and finite revenue sources. In the classroom, test scores and graduation rates continue to slowly climb but still aren't as high as some neighboring school districts.

Cowan, recently retired after 39 years as a teacher and district administrator, is running to continue her passion of caring for the education and well-being of children.

Among the issues Cowan, 65, hopes to address is the achievement gap between white students and those with lower incomes or ethnic backgrounds.

Gibson-Gray, 56, hopes to be re-elected so she can continue to lead the district down the path it's been on the past four years, including establishing more career-themed learning pathways, improving test scores and staying fiscally sound.

Gibson-Gray describes herself as the "spreadsheet board member," in that she is constantly analytical and critical of the district's expenses.

Smith, 58, is seeking her fifth term for the same reason she first sought the office back in 1995: her passion for education.

Smith wants to keep the district working toward improving its academic scores and improving graduation rates -- not only the number of students who graduate but making sure their degrees are meaningful so they are "ready to do what they want to do."

The district should look into the possibility of bringing the career-based learning idea into middle schools and its reading standards for those in continuation high school, Smith said.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.