School board candidate Michael Riley to chat with readers

March 31, 2009

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Vying for one of three open seats, school board candidate Michael Riley will chat with readers on March 31 at 2 p.m.


Hello and welcome to our online chat with school board candidate Michael Riley. Thanks for joining us today, Michael.


I'm K-12 education reporter Lindsey Slater and I'll be moderating today.


We have a few reader submitted questions, so we'll just jump right in.


Michael: I've asked two other candidates this question.

Over 50% of our property taxes are going to fund the schools.

What will you do to keep expenditures in check, and me ensure the SB does not keep raising property taxes? Were you in support of, or against the mill levy increase in 2008, and why?

Thank you

Michael Riley:

In view of decreased funding from the state, I would support an increased mill levy if the tax payers in our district wanted to make up the difference.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when there always seem to be ways of avoiding the constraints of a limited budget. I think we should comply with those limitations and the consequences they entail. That would mean, the administration would need to bring expectations within budget limits. The SB should require it.


Given your strictly conservative christian background and the fact the church which you are a minister believes the bible word for word, how can you be effective in decisions on issues of evolution, sex education? Also do you have any degrees that will help you in this position if elected?
How much say should a child have in their own education?

Michael Riley:

Perhaps the questioner means "objective" rather than "effective." Effective would imply some end in view prior to the issue being considered.

I suspect most people think within the context of a worldview. I have a Christian worldview. To be objective, I need to consider issues from different points of view while recognizing my own preferences. Most people don't recognize their own biases. Mine are upfront.

I have a bachelors degree in religion.

As children mature, our education system wisely allows them increasing freedom in choosing electives in areas of personal interest.


What would your priorities be as a board member if you were faced with making significant budget cuts?

Michael Riley:

All proposed budget cuts will need to be provided to the board by the administration in collaboration with the faculty and staff of the district. Each proposal will need to be evaluated in relation to its impact on our overall educational goals.

To propose budget changes independently, without consulting those at an operational level, would be naive or persumptuous.


Teachers work very closely with our children but they are not required to submit to a pre-employment drug screen; nor are they subject to random drug testing once hired. Will you advocate for drug testing for all teachers, as well as staff, who have contact with our children....and this testing needs to include the school and district administrators in my view as well. What about yours? If you don't believe they should have to be subjected to drug testing, why not? Thank you.

Michael Riley:

I believe that teachers, adminsitrators and staff should complete a pre-employment drug screening. However, I do not believe that random drug testing is necessary. On the other hand, submission to drug testing should be a condition of employment. It would then be an option when evidence of drug use arises.


We have time for one more question.


Do you favor any changes in the LPS's current biology curriculum, for any grade level?

Michael Riley:

I have not had an opportunity to review the current curriculum. I have been able to review the Kansas Science Education Standards. As I noted in a previous forum, the introduction to those standards note that science is limits its inquiry to "natural causes." It supports this limitation by noting that science cannot examine "supernatural causes." This is an unnecessary and misleading explanation for science can examine intelligent causes. That is why a previous version of the Standards used the phrase "logical causes." Limiting the examination to "natural causes" implies naturalism.

This brings me back to the idea of objectivity. How can we claim to be objective when our viewpoint is so restricted? Let's recognize our biases and consider other points of view.


That's all the time we have for our chat today. Thanks for joining us, Michael. Make sure you keep up with all the local election coverage at The election for city commission and the school board is April 7.

Michael Riley:

Thank you Lindsey.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.