By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Editor's note: This is the second of four profiles of candidates running for two seats on the Havre school board.
Drawing on a wide variety of experiences - from studying theology in Milwaukee, to teaching school and coaching in Hays, to working construction on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation - school board candidate Mike Ley approaches education issues with a mix of principle and practicality.
"My attitude is that I believe in the absolute dignity of every person, so that prevails in all my dealings with people whether it be school board members, parents, teachers, administrators ," Ley said in a recent interview.
The former Catholic priest, whose job is helping area high school students better define their career interests, describes himself as "very practical, honest and fiscally conservative."
"I think we need to look at how the dollars are spent, how they're spent for the most efficiency," Ley said. At this point, he said he doesn't know if that means cutting the district's budget. But he does have a clear idea of his priorities if cuts are to be made.
"High quality academics must have to take precedence over all the other ways that our money is spent," he said. Providing high quality academics includes providing adequate teacher salaries, he said.
"I look at the salary that's being offered and I think, 'Oh gosh, how are they going to find a quality person?'" Ley said. Base salary for a new teacher this year is $22,596.
If the choice were between paying for band uniforms and sports equipment or funding adequate teachers' salaries to ensure students have a good science background, Ley said, he would fund the salaries.
Ley may stress the bottom line in the district's finances, but when it comes to students, he is concerned with the less tangible aspects of education. At a school board candidate forum Child College, 1991-present.
Marital status: married
Children: Phillip, 11, Miguel, 9; both attend St. Jude Thaddeus School
Military background: U.S. Army, 1970-1972; served in Vietnam, 1971-1972.
Activities: Little League coach; hunter safety teacher; active member of Rocky Boy Catholic Church; member of Bear Paw Volunteer Fire Department board.