Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Virtual Education

We hear about virtual education, virtual schools and virtual classrooms on the news periodically. Just what is virtual education? Who can use it? What benefits does it have?

In an age of high gas prices, hard economic times and a much more competitive job market easy access to educational opportunities via the Internet can be a boon to adults and children in improving work skills, developing a new career, getting a degree or just learning about the world around us through a computer with Internet connection.

Below are links to information on virtual education within Kansas as well as some links to helpful sites outside our state.

What is "virtual education"?
(An explanation from Wikipedia)

Kansas State Department of Education Information

Kansas Virtual Schools web page (KSDE)

Virtual Schools in Kansas (KSDE)

Registered Virtual School/Program Providers, 2008-2009
(KSDE. Includes districts claiming FTE for virtual services)

Virtual Education Requirements for Kansas (KSDE)

How to Register/Implement a Virtual School/Program (KSDE)

Virtual Learning Online Resources
(Links provided by the Kansas State Department of Education)

A Selection of Other Kansas Resources

Homework Kansas
(HomeworkKansas is an after school tutoring service that connects Kansas students one-on-one with live tutors. It is targeted at students in Kindergarten through 12th grades, college introductory students, adult GED students, and other adult learners. Provided by the State Library of Kansas.)

(Broadband technology-based network to which schools, libraries and hospitals may connect for broadband Internet access and intranet access for distance learning.)

EduKan Online
(An online community college consortium including Barton County, Colby, Dodge City, Garden City, Pratt, and Seward County community colleges. EduKan offers you the opportunity to obtain your complete associate degree online through the EduKan consortium)

Fort Hays State University Virtual College
("A university education that fits your life.")

University of Kansas Medical Center Virtual Classroom

Wichita Area Technical College Virtual College

"I connect, I learn" Kansas education networking group
(You have to join the "ning.com" social networking site to join their groups)

Kansas Distance Learning Programs

Emporia State University
Johnson County Community College
Kansas State University
University of Kansas
Washburn University

Other Distance/Virtual Learning Links

Distance Learning Links
(from Johns Hopkins University)

E-Learning & Technology (US News & World Report)
(Helpful guide with search engine for finding online courses)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Storm Season in Kansas- are you prepared?

Ah... spring in Kansas- it's a wonderful time of awakening, but its also when the weather is at its most unpredictable. Make sure your family is ready to head to the basement, or to evacuate, or to head for high land. Luck favors the prepared, so we've prepared a list of helps for you and your family to prepare for the worst. Aren't you lucky?

Is your family ready?
How to create a survival kit (from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security): http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/

How to create a disaster plan for your home and family


FEMA's general citizen handbook entitled "Are you ready?"


How you can help your community recover from a disaster:


Is your city or county ready?
County Emergency Response teams:

Sedgwick County Emergency Management:


Emergency management in the Kansas City Metro area:

Is your state ready?
Kansas Division of Emergency Management provides a 24-hour operation to reduce loss of life and property, protect Kansans from all hazards by providing and coordinating resources, expertise, leadership and advocacy through a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
The Division works directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)- Director Major General Tod Bunting


Full text of the 2008 Kansas Response Plan:

Is your country ready?
Full text of the 2008 National Response Framework:

Emergency preparedness handbook for facilities that assist those with disabilities (residential, medical, etc.) from FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/oer/reference/index.shtm

Are your pets ready?

Preparedness for your pets from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: http://www.ready.gov/america/toolkit_pets/index.html

Disaster planning for your WHOLE family (including pets and livestock) from the American Veterinary Medical Association: http://www.avma.org/disaster/default.asp

Kansas Animal Management Team: http://www.kssart.org/

How are other agencies preparing in my community?

Disaster updates from the Adjutant General: http://www.kansas.gov/ksadjutantgeneral/News-Disasters-Current.htm

Emergency preparedness and disaster recovery handbook for libraries from the Kansas State Historical Society as prepared for the South Central Library System

Kansas Department of Transportation weather and road conditions: http://www.ksdot.org/offTransInfo/511Info/511traffictravel.asp

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Children, Weight, Exercise and Nutrition

The results are in and we're losing the race to keep our children healthier!

Weight control, exercise and good eating habits... All work together to increase physical and mental well being.

Below are links to sources providing statstics on the health of Kansas kids and programs/services/suggestions that can be of help to parents and care providers in


Facts on Childhood Overweight in Kansas
(Kansas Department of Health and Environment)

Obesity: definition, management, resources
(Kansas State University Research and Extension)

Obesity: Trends, Consequences, and Emerging Strategies
(From "Kansas Legislator Briefing Book, 2009" by Kansas Legislative Research Department)

Health and Well-being of Children, 2005
(Kansas statistics from the survey at U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau)

National Survey of Children's Health, 2005
(Kansas section on overweight and physical activity among children U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau)


Kansas Kids' Fitness & Safety Day

(Will be held May 1, 2009. Check here for information)

P.E. 4 Life
(Organization that promotes physical activity for children)

Kansas Team Nutrition
(Team Nutrition’s goal is to improve children’s lifelong eating and physical activity habits by using the principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guide Pyramid. )

Kansas Coordinated School Health Program
(Kansas Coordinated School Health provides health resources, technical assistance, trainings and funding to create healthy Kansas students, staff, schools, and communities.)

Healthy Kids
(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Walk Kansas Kids
(K-State Research and Extension)

K-State Family Nutrition Program


KC Fit Teens
(a blog written for teens, by Kansas City area teens - covering a wide range of health and wellness related topics)

Cananda's Physical Activity Guide for Children & Youth

Kansas Nutrition Network Resources for Young Children

Material Recommended by the Family Nutrition Program
http://www.humec.ksu.edu/fnp/primary.html (Approved Primary Curriculum)
http://www.humec.ksu.edu/fnp/materials.html (Supplementary)

Kids and Nutrition
(Games and other activities about good nutrition habits for children)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kansas Budget for 2010 and beyond

Each year at the beginning of the legislative session, the Governor puts out the Governor's Budget Report. This year, due to the economic climate and federal funding changes, this budget had to be amended. Towards the end of the legislative session each year the Kansas Legislature introduces a "Mega Appropriations" bill which embodies the budget recommendations and subsequent amendments by the Governor. These Mega bills outline how your tax dollars and other funds are appropriated to state agencies. Both bills have been put into committees to be worked over, and either the House bill or the Senate bill will become the final bill put into law. The House and the Senate recently introduced their Mega bills and they are:

House Bill 2373


Senate Bill 304


*You can use the PDF search feature or press Shift+Ctrl+F to look through these bills for specific agencies.

The Governor's Budget amendment for 2010, published February 27, 2009 takes into consideration Federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You can find out Governor's Sebelius' state budget recommendation at:


Read more about Kansas' budget process from the Legislative Procedure Manual available at http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/about/legproc.pdf (pages 165-175)

You can find the Governor's initial budget at


You will be able to track the progress of these bills at http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-billtrack/index.do

The Kansas Legislative Session adjourns for the 2009 session in May.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kansas Sales Tax Information

Always a topic of discussion and debate localities around the state have sales tax proposals on the ballot in 2009. Listed here are some online resources on the sales tax in Kansas.

State Sales Tax Information
(Kansas Department of Revenue)

Local Sales Tax Information
(Kansas Department of Revenue)

Sales Tax Fact Sheets
Covers the following areas:
Advertising Agency
Airports and Fixed Base Operations (FBOs)
Architectural Services
Beauty Salons/Barber Shops/Nail Salons
Bowling Centers
Catering and Mobile Food Services
Certified Public Accountants & Other Accounting Services
Chambers of Commerce
Construction Contractors

Convenience Stores
Custom Computer Programming Services
Diagnostic Imaging Centers
Engineering Services
Fitness Centers
Funeral Homes & Funeral Service Providers
General Automotive Repair
General Industries
Graphic Design Services
Home Centers, Hardware, Paint and Wallpaper and Building Material Stores
Insurance Agents/Brokers
Interior Design Services
Janitorial Services
Jewelry Industries
Kennel Operators
Medical Offices and Clinics
Motion Picture/Drive In Movies/ Theater Companies/Dinner Theaters
Oil and Gas Well Drilling Service Providers
Pest Control Services
Plumbing & HVAC Contractors & Contractor-Retailers
Real Estate Agents/Brokers/Property Management Firms
Retail Stores
Sign Companies
Specialty Therapists
Tanning Salon
Taverns and Bars
Telephone Answering Service Provider
Testing Laboratories
Travel Agencies/Travel Agents
Vending Companies
Video Rental
Weight Control Services

Kansas Sales Tax and Compensating Use Tax
(A good handbook for businesses in Kansas from the Kansas Dept. of Revenue)

Kansas Office of Local Government publications
(The Office of Local Government provides educational outreach, technical assistance, applied research, and information and referral services to city and county governments, local organizations, the county Extension network and citizens throughout Kansas. Among the publications are the 2008 Situation & Trends County Data Reports and 2008 Kansas County Fiscal Conditions and Trends)

Check out the tax climate for Kansas at The Tax Foundation’s website:

Kansas Sunshine Review
(A nonprofit wiki covering U.S. state and local government. Includes some tax information)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Death Penalty Laws in Kansas

The Kansas Legislature is currently debating Senate Bill 208 which would change capital punishment laws in our state.

The resources below, primarily from government websites, provide information on capital punishment in Kansas.

Don't forget that you can track the status of Senate Bill 208 or any other proposed legislation by contacting staff at the State Library of Kansas: http://www.kslib.info/ask.html


The text of Kansas Senate Bill 208 (2009 Session)
(It is always wise to check with resources such as the Kansas Legislative Hotline on possible status and text changes in the legislative process. Call the Hotline at: 1-800-432-3924 or contact State Library staff via the Ask A Librarian web page:
http://www.kslib.info/ask.html )

Death Penalty in Kansas
(From: 2009 Kansas Legislator Briefing Book)

“Kansas v. Marsh” (U.S. Supreme Court, 2006)
Summary and full text of a Supreme Court Ruling in “Kansas v. Marsh” in which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional a state death penalty statute that requires capital punishment to be imposed if a jury finds that aggravating circumstances are not outweighed by mitigating circumstances.
(Global Information Network)

Report of the Kansas Judicial Council Death Penalty Advisory Committee on Certain Issues Related to the Death Penalty, November 12, 2004

Kansas Sentencing Commission
(Senate Bill 50, which became law in 1989, established the Kansas Sentencing Commission, and directed the Commission to: "Develop a sentencing guidelines model or grid based on fairness and equity and...provide a mechanism for linking justice and corrections policies.)

Costs Incurred for Death Penalty Cases
(Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit, 2003)


A Kansas Memory Podcast: Capital Punishment in Kansas
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas Memory
Government and Politics - Crime and Punishment - Crimes - Murders
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas Memory
Government and Politics - Crime and Punishment - Punishment - Death penalty
(Kansas State Historical Society)

"Capital Punishment in Kansas: Nuts & Bolts and More"
(From: "Law Wise", Kansas Bar Foundation, Feb. 2000)


Resources on Capital Punishment in Kansas in the ATLAS Catalog
(The State Library's online library catalog shared with Washburn University, Kansas State Historical Society, Kansas Supreme Court Law Library and Brown v. Board NHS)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Government regulation of insurance

When shopping for insurance or looking for health assistance, it can be puzzling as to which agency regulates or provides which kind of insurance. The Kansas Insurance Commissioner's office regulates commercial insurance companies in Kansas. The Kansas Health Policy Authority provides and regulates the state employee health insurance plan as well as state assisted health plans like Healthwave and Medicaid. The Kansas department of Social and Rehabilitation Services provides general medical assistance to those who qualify. Lastly, the Kansas Department of Labor provides unemployment insurance. Follow the links below for more valuable insurance consumer information!

Kansas Insurance Commissioner's homepage

Insure U- a website for consumers to learn more about the ins and outs of insurance

ABC's of insurance: a primer

How to fight suspected insurance fraud

Health Insurance Reform in Kansas:

Auto insurance:
Shopper's guide from the Insurance Commissioner's office:

Compare auto insurance rates:

Home/Renter's insurance:
A primer from the Insurance Commissioner:

Chart comparing Kansas home insurance companies:

Turned down? Ask about the Kansas FAIR Plan:
http://www.ksinsurance.org/consumers/homeinfo.htm (scroll to the bottom)

Health insurance:
A primer for health insurance:

Kansas Health Policy Authority homepage

Information on buying long-term care insurance:

And from the Kansas Department on Aging: http://www.agingkansas.org/CultureChange/Culture_Change_Index.html

State Employee healthcare plan:

State assistance for health insurance- Medicaid and Healthwave

or for general assistance with disabilities

How to apply for assistance:


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gov. Sebelius nominated to U.S. Cabinet Post

Kathleen Sebelius
Mark Parkinson

On March 2, 2009, President Obama nominated Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be a member of his Cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Governor Sebelius accepted the nomination and will await approval by the U.S. Senate before officially taking office.

The nation recently went through a smoothe transition from one presidential administration to another and now Kansas will prepare for the possibility of a change in governors under the laws that govern our state.

Below are online resources on Governor Sebelius and our Lieutenant Governor, Mark Parkinson who will assume the governorship pending Sebelius' departure. Also included are links to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and sites proving information on the processes that will take place as our state and federal governments move through changes in leadership.

Kathleen Sebelius

Information from the Governor's website

Biographical information from Wikipedia with references

Mark Parkinson

Lieutenant Governor's web page at governor.ks.gov

Biographical information from Wikipedia with references

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a Cabinet department of the United States government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America". In 2004 the Department had 67,000 employees.

The department was created when President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act (PL 96-88) into law on October 17, 1979. It split the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, (HEW), which included the Social Security Administration, agencies constituting the Public Health Service, Family Support Administration, and the Office of Education into the Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Education. Both began operation on May 4, 1980.” (Wikipedia.org)

Vacancies in Kansas Executive Offices
From Article 1 of the Kansas State Constitution:

“11. Vacancies in executive offices. When the office of governor is vacant, the lieutenant governor shall become governor. In the event of the disability of the governor, the lieutenant governor shall assume the powers and duties of governor until the disability is removed. The legislature shall provide by law for the succession to the office of governor should the offices of governor and lieutenant governor be vacant, and for the assumption of the powers and duties of governor during the disability of the governor, should the office of lieutenant governor be vacant or the lieutenant governor be disabled. When the office of secretary of state or attorney general is vacant, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment for the remainder of the term. If the secretary of state or attorney general is disabled, the governor shall name a person to assume the powers and duties of the office until the disability is removed. The procedure for determining disability and the removal thereof shall be provided by law.”

United States Cabinet

Official site of U.S. Presidential Cabinet

Track the Confirmation of President Obama's Cabinet Nominees
(From CQ Politics)

United States Cabinet
(Information from Wikipedia)