Home/Topic: School District Equalization/
Refine Your Results
  • Interviewee

Topic: School District Equalization

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
Senator Fred Kerr

Interview of Fred Kerr, March 30, 2015

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
This is the first of two oral history interviews of Fred Kerr in this collection. (Ed Flentje conducted the second interview 2018.) Kerr reflects on his 15 years in the Kansas Senate representing the 33rd Senate district. He recalls Senate leaders and fellow Senators who helped him as a freshman and the influence of those mentors on his career. Fred talks extensively about the process involved in securing a leadership position in the Senate and the dynamics of leadership races. He also reflects on the urban-rural divide in Kansas politics that during the late Show More1970s and early to mid 1980s was often more of a force than the partisan divide. A version of this interview is also posted on KansasMemory.org, the website of the Kansas Historical Society. A more recent oral history interview of Fred Kerr is here. Show Less

Interview of Fred Kerr, April 13, 2018

Interviewed by H. Edward (Ed) Flentje
Fred Kerr reflects on his 15 years in the Kansas Senate representing the 33rd Senate district. He recalls Senate leaders and fellow Senators who helped him as a freshman and whose influence guided him throughout his career. Fred talks about the process involved in securing a leadership position in the Senate and the dynamics of leadership races. He observes how relationships between competitors for leadership offices affected Senators differently and how they worked together in subsequent legislative sessions. He also reflects on how decisions were made regarding tax policy both to fund highways and public schools. Show MoreFred, who ran for Governor in 1994, comments about the increasing influence of money and monied interests in state-wide politics. A previous oral history interview of Fred Kerr is here. 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 Dennis McKinney, August 23, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
Dennis McKinney developed many insights in his sixteen years as a leader in the minority party into how the legislature did work, and how it should work. He recounts numerous instances when things worked well because of bipartisan cooperation and compromise. McKinney's experiences on the House Energy and Natural Resources committee working with Carl Holmes and Ken Grotewiel helped shape water policy in Kansas. His experience as a farmer and rancher in south central Kansas coupled with his focus on problem solving led to his reputation as a "middle of the road legislator" who would work Show Morewith both political sides as well as urban and rural. McKinney was committed to public education as well as conservation. The pursuit of fair and balanced tax policy shaped his actions. The interview highlights the importance of leadership from the governor's office and other legislative leaders (Mays, Shallenburger, D. Kerr, Morris). There is an interesting segment about the 2005 Special Session on school finance where McKinney talks about using the courts as leverage. The interview concludes with a brief discussion of the Greensburg tornado. Show Less
bill reardon kansas representative

Interview of William (Bill) Reardon, August 2, 2019

Interviewed by Jim McLean
Bill Reardon is a story-teller, famous in the Democrat caucus for his jokes, stories and anecdotes, told with great enthusiasm. This entertaining interview is also filled with some of those stories. Reardon talks about how he was inspired by seeing John F. Kennedy in Kansas City and also by his brother and father, both political figures in Wyandotte County. There is an entertaining description of a hearing he chaired in the Federal and State Affairs committee on the Equal Rights Amendment in 1977. Reardon divides his legislative service into two periods—the bipartisan problem-solving work of the first 15 years, and Show Morea more ideologically driven, partisan era in the last fifteen years. His descriptions of developing and passing the 1992 school finance bill are consistent with other interviews of legislators serving at that time. Reardon tells stories about how leadership worked and discloses his observations about the Brownback years when he was serving as a lobbyist for the school district. He did end the interview with his story about a land turtle which was not transcribed because of its length, but if you see Reardon, ask him about the turtle story. Show Less
Jim-Slattery

Interview of James (Jim) Slattery, March 6, 2020

Interviewed by Jim McLean
The 1970's marked major changes in state government. They are doing away with county welfare offices and creating the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) Concerns over lack of equalization started with Caldwell school finance case. Transportation is being centralized and modernized with the creation of the Department of Transportation (KDOT). Slattery even introduced legislation to decriminalize small amount of marijuana. Campaign finance reform (post-Watergate) and hiring non-partisan, professional staff for the legislature took hold. Slattery and another new freshman, Mike Hayden support legislation to clean up strip mines and reclaim mined Show Morelands. The first income tax reform was initiated despite the governor's veto. Community corrections is emerging as a good strategy. Slattery describes the role of abortion in civil discourse in this interview, how it started in the Dole/Roy race in 1974, and how it continues to distort the American political system in a significant way. He explains why he ran for Congress as a deficit hawk and talked about some of his Congressional experiences. The interview closes with a story about Tip O'Neil and another about former Speaker Clyde Hill who advised Slattery to be accurate when speaking at the Well of the House. Show Less

Interview of Kent Glasscock, June 11, 2021

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
As Majority Leader, and then as Kansas House Speaker, Kent Glasscock found ways to work productively with the conservative wing of the Republican caucus. The first part of the interview describes how Glasscock decided to run for office and his six campaigns. As he moved up in leadership, the interview talks about several situations where his views as a moderate Republican clashed with the growing number of conservatives in the Republican caucus. Finally, Speaker Shallenburger called Glasscock to his office and together they made peace and subsequently worked well together. Glasscock cites the school finance bill that Show Moredealt with a capital outlay for school buildings as one of his best, most long-lasting accomplishments as well as the Confined Animal Feeding legislation. Styling himself as a true "policy wonk", Glasscock's descriptions of legislative antics in passing legislation are really interesting. This interview gives a picture of how the legislature transitioned to conservative control during his 12 years in office. Show Less
Go to Top