Knitting and School Board Meetings

WTDY is running a poll on whether new board member Lucy Mathiak should knit during meetings. Watch Monday’s meeting, where the Board discussed the just released 2006/2007 budget. Monday’s agenda can be found here. I’m glad WTDY is having a look at the school board. Perhaps they might include some additional topics. The meeting included the award (8C) of a 856K electrical upgrade for Sennett Middle School (referendum – estimated at 459,300).

11 thoughts on “Knitting and School Board Meetings”

  1. Hello?! $396,700 over estimate? Is that possibly a correct figure?! I voted for the maintenance referendum and don’t want to deny the basics but how could there be such a huge discrepancy in the estimate and the accepted bid?
    If it is, where is the public outcry and why would this pass a BOE vote? How many teachers could be employed for this amount of money?! That would pay for a lot of Reading Recovery of whatever other teaching method MMSD wanted to try. How many bidders participated in this process?

  2. I say LLK: Let Lucy Knit!
    Seriously, at least she’s conscious during meetings (I was going to use the term “Lucid” but then we’d have to nickname her Lucid Lucy;)
    Besides, anyone who knows Lucy knows she’s more competent while multi-tasking than a lot of former BoE members were when they were single-tasking.

  3. There were a number of factors that led to the increased bid – the most significant one was that the scope of the project was increased. Staff included another electrical project (originally scheduled in a later year) to be done at the same time – reasoning that once they had the school closed down and were tearing into walls and ceilings it made sense to do both at the same time.
    Other reasons for the increase – the estimated cost was established about 18 months ago – and we have seen a dramatic rise in construction costs (both supplies and labor) over the last year. Lastly, the RFP was put out fairly late for a summer start.
    The Board debated all of these issues for quite some time and then made the decision, reluctantly on the part of some, to go ahead. The vote was 5-2 with Johnny Winston Jr. and Shwaw Vang voting no.

  4. I voted against last year’s maintenance referendum for exactly the reason described by Carol.
    It appears that no one in the MMSD really knows how referendum money will be spent at the time of the referendum. Apparently, the MMSD sends crews to a school to do whatever someone decides needs done, regardless of what projects were part of the referendum.
    I’ll vote for a maintenance referendum when the MMSD has a new administration that can accurately assess what’s needed for maintenance and then appropriately follow through.

  5. Yes, I’m busted. My nasty addiction that did not come to light during the election has surfaced. It probably is healthy – lord knows, my 17-year-old has tried to talk with me about his concerns for some time. [According to Andrew, he’s tired of hearing, “Oh, c’mon man….just one more rowwwww.”
    I know that the ever-alert press has been needling me for being such a Knit Wit. Haven’t decided what I will do, but if I do have to forego knitting during the board meeting, I will be looking for a 12-step group to help me with my recovery.
    In the meantime, I will take up Joan’s suggestion re. a muffler for Sly….perhaps something Isadora Duncan length, for example? Before that, however, I want to finish the gavel cozy that I am making for the next board president.

  6. Thank you Carol for answering my question. I appreciate your engagement and willingness to share information.
    I do wonder about the line “the RFP was put out relatively late for a summer start”? Isn’t there a ‘master maintenance’ plan and accompanying calendar schedule? If there is not I would urge creation of such a plan. If the Sherman work was identified 18 months ago, why was there a last minute rush to get a RFP before summer?
    I recall during the campaign Maya Cole mentioned the roof leaking whenever it rained at Randall. Most of our buildings are relatively old and require routine maintenance every year in addition to replacement and upgrade work. I think it would go a long way toward voter confidence to have a plan for each school that could then be globally managed by district staff.
    If such a plan could be communicated to the school community it might also lead to fund raising for lower priority, but nice to have items like the blacktop replacement at Crestwood and the UV filtration system at West High that were paid for by parent supported groups.
    It sounds like no BOE member was particularly satisfied with this situation. I would hope we would learn from this experience and not repeat the delays and cost escalation.
    BTW- Our girls’ 3rd grade teacher taught all the children in her class to knit and it was a terrific, creative and calming activity!

  7. My goodness, we have this budget to worry about, kids who aren’t getting their needs met in Madison schools, heterogeneous grouping debates, equity debates, reading debates, and someone is worried whether Lucy knits at board meetings?

  8. I’m all for her knitting at meetings. people need to realize that knitting is a hand activity that doesn’t interfee with brain activities. and in fact, many people do better with brain activities if they can do something with their hands while they do it.

  9. Hi, everybody.
    I would just like to say that the real issue is not whether or not Lucy can multitask or pay attention while knitting. It is principles. If someone takes the time to come out to meetings and talk about something important to them, they deserve to be shown respect, and knitting while they are speaking in front of view seems rather disrespectful.
    Thank you all for your opinions.

  10. I’m not from your area, but just be glad the lady is there, doing her job AND being productive. Knitting helps focus the mind. At least she won’t fall asleep in the boring board meetings.

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