The new Sitka School District logo, designed by former board member Jennifer Robinson of J.I. Design & Marketing.

The Sitka School Board has passed a $22 million budget for next year, but is still waiting for positive news from the legislature before turning it in. The board also approved a new logo for the district.

The board adopted the FY18 budget last Tuesday (4-18-17), but business manager Cassee Olin says she’ll hold off delivering it to city hall until this Friday.

“We’re still hoping something may change in the legislature,” she says.

Lawmakers in Juneau are at an impasse. The bipartisan-led House of Representatives is proposing no additional cuts to education next year; the Republican-led Senate is proposing a reduction to the base student allocation, the amount of money the state provides to public schools for each student.

The two bodies are expected to form a conference committee to hammer out their differences on education funding, as well as funding for many other aspects of government.

The Sitka school budget includes a reduction of 2 teachers and 4 paraprofessionals, due to lower projected enrollment. The district expects 1,253 students next year.

Olin says she and superintendent Mary Wegner have balanced the budget with things they can control. They’ve reduced the supplies budget by 10-percent next year, as well as for the remainder of this year. The budgets of the Maintenance Department and district office have also been cut by 10-percent — combined, it amounts to a savings of about $180,000.

And the school board has to decided not to play nice with the city. The board began its budget process planning to take a $239,000 cut from local government, but reversed itself when state budget cuts appeared likely in Juneau.

Just as funding from the state next year is a question mark, there’s no telling how the assembly will respond to the turnabout. “We’ll see what they say,” says Olin. City government in Sitka last year contributed $6.2 million to local schools.

New district branding

Whether or not it wins assembly approval, this year’s school budget looks sharp. The school board earlier this month adopted new branding for the district.

Former school board member Jennifer Robinson has launched a marketing business called J.I. Design & Marketing. She unveiled the new look at the board’s meeting on April 13.

“What does it mean to brand a school district? It’s working together toward one common goal. Being focused and unified. It’s knowing who we are and what we stand for, and then sharing that story. It’s creating a positive image, inspiring our audience. It’s living our mission, upholding our values, and building trust — it’s breathing life into a logo.”

Compared to the former logo, the new brand is simple and contemporary — just a couple of trees and the words “Sitka School District: discover, nurture, inspire,” which are drawn from the district’s mission statement. Gone are the volcano and the fishing boat. Robinson’s color palette suggests the natural elements of ocean and water surrounding Sitka, and the design adapts to business documents — like a school budget — and also to swag like t-shirts and mugs.

Superintendent Mary Wegner asked for no special funding for the project. She said that the branding was paid for out of the administration account. You can check out the new logo on our website