Two seats on the Bozeman School Board will be up for grabs in the May election and for the first time in four years, one seat won’t have an incumbent running.

Heide Arneson, 59, who has served as a trustee since 2008, said Monday she has decided not to run for a fifth term.

Incumbent Greg Neil, 44, an insurance agency partner who has served on the school board for three years, said he is planning to run again.

The deadline for candidates to file to run is March 26 at 5 p.m. for the May 5 election, said Mike Waterman, school business manager and district clerk. No one has yet filed to run.

Candidates must reside in the Bozeman elementary school district and be registered voters. Trustees serve for three years and receive no pay.

The eight-member school board oversees and sets policies for the fast-growing school district, more than 7,100 students, 820 full-time employees and $95 million in school budgets.

Arneson said she’d give the Bozeman schools a grade of A.

“I think every year the quality of education in our district improves,” Arneson said. She hopes to see candidates run who feel it’s a good school district that can always improve.

Arneson said feels the district has done a good job managing growth, building new schools while trying to keep the tax impact as low as possible, because many taxpayers on fixed incomes are struggling.

She said she’s proud of work to improve school safety, follow the long-range strategic plan and create alternatives to expelling misbehaving students from school. She said she’s pleased that the school board operates by finding consensus and trustees “focus on the kids.”

Serving on the board is a big commitment, much more than simply attending two meetings a month, she said. Meeting agendas can include hundreds of pages that trustees should read beforehand.

An Air Force veteran, Arneson teaches aviation weather and other classes to student pilots at Gallatin College. Between teaching, finishing her master’s degree in higher education, working part time downtown and serving on the school board, she said she had to take something off her plate.

Neil, a 1993 Bozeman High graduate and partner in the First West Insurance agency, said he has really enjoyed his three years on the board, though there’s a steep learning curve.

Neil said he’s proud of all the efforts to build new Gallatin High School, which is on track to open on time and on budget.

He has served on committees that set boundaries between the two high schools, planned the redesign of Bozeman High and recommended building a new sports stadium as a more cost-effective move than renovating the old stadium. The board does take a lot of time, he said, but it’s something he enjoys.

“The Bozeman School District, I hold close to my heart,” Neil said. “I’m thankful I’ve been able to be a part of it.”

Neil and his wife, Kara, have four children in the Bozeman schools.

This story was corrected Jan. 15 to show that Greg Neil is a partner in an insurance agency, not an insurance company, and to add his wife's name.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.

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