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Kansas Audio-Reader Network Will Lose KU Funding for Salaries

This map indicates the vast reach of the Kansas Audio Reader Network. (Photo by J. Schafer)

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.  


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