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MMSD board member Cris Carusi smiles during the Madison Metropolitan School Board swearing-in ceremony at Cesar Chávez Elementary School on April 29, 2019.

There will be at least one open Madison School Board seat up for election this spring.

Cris Carusi, whose first three-year term on the board ends in April, announced Thursday morning she is not running for reelection. In an email, Carusi wrote that it was a “difficult decision,” but that her “life has changed in significant ways” since she was elected in April 2019.

“Like many people, I have been presented with new obligations and opportunities, including a job change, that I could not have predicted three years ago,” Carusi wrote. “Serving on the School Board is a tremendous responsibility, and I will continue to prioritize my service to MMSD through my last day in office. However, over the coming years, it will be difficult for me to commit the time this office demands and deserves.”

In the other two seats up for election to the seven-member board, Ali Muldrow has announced she will run for reelection, while Ananda Mirilli has not yet made a public announcement. All Madison School Board seats are at-large, meaning anyone who is of age and lives within the district's boundaries is eligible to run for any seat they choose.

The spring election is April 5, 2022. If any of the three seats up for election have more than two candidates, a primary would be held Feb. 15, 2022.

Candidates could begin to circulate nomination papers Dec. 1 and must file the required number of signatures by Jan. 4, 2022. Incumbents not running for re-election must file a notice of non-candidacy by Dec. 27.

Both board races last spring were unopposed.

Carusi’s term, like Muldrow and Mirilli’s, was overtaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed schools 11 months into their time on the board. School buildings would remain closed for one year in Madison.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put many of our families and staff, and the institution of public education itself, in a vulnerable place,” Carusi wrote in her statement. “I intend to continue advocating for our public schools and children, alongside the many dedicated people in our community who have been doing this work for years.”

She encouraged others to “consider joining this effort in whatever way you are able.”

“Together, we can pull through the challenges we currently face and create the bright, hopeful future we all desire,” Carusi wrote.

The board still made momentous decisions as district administration dealt with the unprecedented crisis the pandemic brought on. Carusi was among the unanimous votes to hire superintendent Carlton Jenkins last summer, as well as the board’s vote to remove school resource officers from Madison’s high schools amid a nationwide reckoning with racial justice.

She was on the losing side of a 4-3 vote this spring that minimized seniority in staff layoff and reassignment decisions. Muldrow and Mirilli both voted in favor of the change, which supporters said they hoped would allow the district to better retain staff of color. Madison Teachers Inc. and other critics suggested it would not have the intended effect.

The board also approved putting a pair of referendums on the ballot that voters overwhelmingly supported even during the pandemic. 

Carusi wrote in her statement that her “commitment to public education and children has not wavered,” and thanked her fellow board members for their work in her time on the board.

“I am privileged to serve on the most diverse Board in the history of our district, and I wish to thank my fellow board members for their unwavering commitment to justice and equity in education,” she wrote. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished together.”

She also thanked supporters of her campaign and those who offered guidance while she was in office, along with school staff.

“To the MMSD staff who educate, feed, nurture, heal, support and serve our children and families: I owe you more gratitude than I can possibly express,” she wrote. “Your commitment to public education and youth is a gift to our community that is too often taken for granted.”

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