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Topic: Local option budget (school districts)

Dale Dennis, Kansas

Interview of Dale Dennis, August 28, 2020

Interviewed by Andy Tompkins
People interested in the development of education policy in Kansas will find no better resource than this 2020 oral history interview with Dale Dennis, Deputy Commissioner of Education. This interview was conducted by Dr. Andy Tompkins, a former Kansas Commissioner of Education. During the interview, Dennis speaks candidly about policy development, indicating the issues and the legislators who were intrinsically involved. The interview covers the 1972 lawsuit which was the first dealing with issues of equity in school funding. Twenty years later, the 1992 school finance lawsuit again challenged the lack of equalization which rendered the formula unconstitutional. The process Show Moreby which the Legislature, Governor Joan Finney, Speaker Marvin Barkis, and others went about addressing the Court's concerns is explained in detail. By 2000 the Legislature had again failed to fund the school finance formula fully and the Montoy lawsuit arose. There was another case in 2010 (Gannon); this time the problem was the adequacy of the funding to meet constitutional requirements. Moving on from school finance lawsuits, the interview covers school consolidation and related issues of local control. Dennis explains why he started offering budget workshops to school administrators, including the development of software and the use of computers. This interview includes a brief discussion of the 1999-2000 legislation that moved state oversight of community colleges and technical schools (later termed technical colleges) from the Kansas Department of Education to the Kansas Board of Regents. Show Less
tim emert kansas

Interview of Tim Emert, October 4, 2019

Interviewed by Jim McLean
Tim Emert's interview covers his Senate career in the last decade of the Twentieth century, following passage of a markedly different school finance bill in 1992 and with a divided Republican caucus in the Senate--a time of big change. Emert stepped into the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary committee immediately and later moved up to Majority Leader by a one-vote margin. The interview is filled with descriptions of coalitions he formed to get legislation passed. As Judiciary chair Emert dealt with both the death penalty, which he personally opposed, and a bill restricting late term abortions which Show Moreno one liked but passed. He worked with Christine Downey to get a major policy change regarding community colleges. There are also descriptions of his work on the State Board of Education and later, the Board of Regents. Emert describes himself as neither moderate or conservative, but "a realistic Republican." As Majority Leader he talks about the "juggling act" trying to keep communication with the conservative House Speakers (Shallenburger and Jennison) and the Senate. He explains the tension in having both the poorest and richest counties in his district and trying to provide equalization of school funding. The interview touches on the renovation of the Capitol and also renovation of Cedar Crest. Show Less
Dave Kerr, Kansas

Interview of Dave Kerr, August 23, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
In a 2019 oral history interview Dave Kerr recalls nearly 20 years in the Kansas Senate including his terms as Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and President of the Senate. His tenure in the senate spanned the period when state resources were directed toward economic development, an effort he thought was much needed. Kerr also recalls the revamping of the public education funding formula in 1992 and reorganization of governance and oversight of postsecondary education. He observes that key characteristics of a leader are willingness to listen to various points of view and endure the Show More"slings and arrows" of leadership. Show Less
Janis Lee, Kansas

Interview of Janis Lee, October 14, 2019

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Former State Senator Janis Lee's 2019 oral history interview covered her 22 years in the Kansas Senate as well as several years on the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals (formerly the Board of Tax Appeals and later returned to that name). The interview covers many topics, including how she campaigned in a rural district that increased in area over those 22 years, driving as much as 45,000 miles in an election year. Lee developed expertise in tax issues that was important to the agriculture community and in funding rural schools. Water supply was an important issue in her district, Show Moreas was adapting federal regulations so they would work in rural communities. She witnessed the shift to a more conservative legislature and more anti-abortion legislation. Funding for schools dominated most sessions. Show Less

Interview of Jack Wempe, September 28, 2021

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Jack Wempe of Rice County gave a detailed interview about the decade of the 1990's he spent in the Kansas House of Representatives. He played pivotal roles in the passage of the 1992 school finance bill and legislation to consolidate governance in higher education. He worked with members of both parties to pass legislation important to rural communities as well as education. Wempe became interested in taxation and economic development. Wempe also comments on the shift in philosophy of the Republican party during his time in office and its move to a more conservative leadership. Show MoreAt the conclusion of his legislative service, Wempe was appointed to the Board of Regents where he became chair in 2003. Show Less
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