Recently USD 259, the Wichita school district, asked a school bond issue opposition group to stop using its logo, on the grounds that it was too similar to the logo the Wichita school district itself uses. Newspaper coverage revealed that the district had engaged in a multi-year legal battle with the Washington Apple Commission over the logo.
I was curious, so I filed a records request asking for records that would let the citizens of Wichita learn how much its school district had spent on this matter. I asked for records of legal fees paid to outside counsel, plus records of internal resources used. Records about the internal time and resources don’t exist, but legal bills paid from 2001 to 2006 amount to $7,642. We only presume how many hours of staff time and how many meetings were convened to work on this matter.
While this may not seem like a lot of money for an organization whose budget this year is over $604,000,000, it raises these questions:
Why does the Wichita school district feel the need to defend its logo? Universities do this, as they earn large sums from licensing fees for shirts and other merchandise. I haven’t found anyone who remembers the Wichita school district selling merchandise with its logo.
Who owns this logo, and who paid for its creation and defense? Was it the taxpayers?
The Wichita school district is fond of telling us that everything goes towards student achievement, that “it’s all about the kids.” How does the defense of this logo advance these goals?
When Wichita schoolteachers are forced to dip into their own pockets to stock their classrooms with supplies, it seems incomprehensible that the district would spend any money at all on a silly logo battle like this.