The University of Kansas plans to discontinue funding for the Kansas Audio-Reader Network, the radio reading service for the blind and vision-impaired. As KPR's J. Schafer reports, the decision doesn't mean an end to Audio-Reader, but it does mean an end to KU's funding.
Three years from now, KU will no longer pay for the salaries of Audio-Reader's six employees. Reggie Robinson, KU's vice chancellor for public affairs, delivered the news to Audio-Reader's advisory board, saying KU needed to trim its budget while protecting KU's core educational mission. Audio-Reader will remain in its current building on campus and KU will still pay its utilities. But Robinson said Audio-Reader will soon have to rely on its own fundraising to pay for its three full-time and three part-time staffers. Audio-Reader, the nation's 2nd oldest radio reading service, has been serving blind and vision impaired listeners for the past 47 years. I'm J. Schafer.
The University of Kansas currently provides approximately $330,000 a year to the Kansas Audio-Reader Network. That money is used to pay for the salaries and benefits of the organization's six employees (three full-time and three part-time). Part of the money also helps pay for portions of the salaries for several employees Audio-Reader shares with its neighbor, Kansas Public Radio. These dual employees, who work in engineering, accounting and administration, perform work for both Audio-Reader and KPR. During the current fiscal year, KU will continue to pay roughly $330,000. Next fiscal year, that amount will drop to $165,000. The following year, KU will also pay $165,000. After that, KU will no longer provide direct cash support for these salaries. Reggie Robinson, KU's Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, which oversees Audio-Reader, says the radio reading service will continue to be housed at KU the University will continue to provide indirect support, like heating, cooling, building maintenance and administrative support (HR/payroll). Robinson, who made the decision, delivered the news today (THUR) to members of Audio-Reader's development committee, which also serves as an advisory board for Audio-Reader. Robinson explained the move by saying the University was trying to absorb a $20 million budget cut on the Lawrence campus and that he needed to protect the school's core educational services. Audio-Reader, he said, falls outside of the scope of those core educational services.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to KPR for more information. Want to contribute to Audio-Reader? Click here.