Archive for Tuesday, August 3, 1999


August 3, 1999


Though SRS Secretary Rochelle Chronister has no firm date for leaving, state officials expect her to resign sometime this fall.

Gov. Bill Graves is considering candidates to replace Rochelle Chronister, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, who plans to leave her job this fall.

"The governor has some folks in mind," said Graves spokesman Mike Matson. "His M.O. is to wait for the official announcement," before he begins interviewing for a new Cabinet member to lead the state's welfare department.

John Garlinger, SRS public information officer, said Chronister has no firm date for departure.

But, "we expect her to leave sometime this fall," he said.

Legislators already are speculating about Chronister's successor. One person being discussed is Chronister's deputy, Janet Schalansky, a 20-year veteran of the department, said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Children's Issues.

One or two legislators also may be interested in the job, Landwehr said, though she has heard no names mentioned. Landwehr said she does not want the job herself.

Chronister said several months ago she planned to leave the department in summer or fall this year.

Chronister served in the Legislature as a Republican representative from Neodesha for 17 years. She had been chairperson of the House Appropriations Committee when she was tapped by Graves for the top SRS job in April 1995.

As secretary, Chronister has overseen the controversial privatization of the state's foster care system. She also oversaw federal welfare reform on the state level.

Landwehr said Chronister had the requisite backbone to run one of the largest state agencies that deals with very emotional issues.

"She wasn't afraid to make changes," Landwehr said. "I think she was willing to say when things weren't working."

Schalansky, too, has been involved in welfare reform and privatization at SRS. She coordinated the Actively Creating Tomorrow for Kansas Children and Families program, the state's welfare reform initiative.

-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is

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