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About the Gallatin Gateway School Board of Trustees

The Gallatin Gateway School District Board has a five-member board of trustees*, each with one vote. The superintendent serves as the board's chief adviser on educational matters and as the district's educational leader. The superintendent does not have voting rights.  The Gallatin Gateway School board represents the people of the district as the legal body that establishes educational policies and sets goals and objectives for the district. These policies and goals are carried out by the superintendent and staff under the board’s direction.

Gallatin Gateway School Board member terms of office are three years and overlap to ensure continuity of board leadership.  School board members donate their time, receiving no pay for their public service. They are accountable to you, the Gallatin Gateway School community, and to the state and federal governments.
*As a class 3 district, Gallatin Gateway School is required to have a three member Board of Trustees. At the school election on May 2003, the District chose to increase the Board to five members.

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School Board Members
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DISCLOSURE:  Please be advised that when you email individual trustees or the Board as a whole, such email communications are treated as public records, are required to be maintained by the District as an official public record, and are subject to further disclosure to members of the public.  The only exception to public disclosure is when the contents of your email communication infringes on an individual’s right of privacy that clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure.
Mary Thurber - Board Chair
Appointed July 2019
Three Year Term - Term ends May 2026
family on horses in front of school

Mary, her partner, Andi, and step-daughter, Kryka, live on a farm in Gallatin Gateway with their
four dogs, three cats and ten horses. Mary grew up as the daughter of a foreign service officer;
living in Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan and Canada. She graduated from Stanford
University with a degree in History and received an MBA from Harvard University. Mary spent
most of her career working for the high technology company, Cisco Systems, in business
development, finance and investor relations. She decided to leave the business world after
going through Y2K and spent the remaining years before moving to Gallatin Gateway traveling
to all corners of the world. She also worked for a couple of seasons as a naturalist in Antarctica.
Besides spending time with her horses, Mary enjoys hiking, back country camping, reading, and
traveling (Antarctica and Africa are her two favorite continents).
Mary has always loved learning, even returning to Montana State University in 2016 as a non
traditional student. She is passionate about education and feels strongly that Gallatin Gateway
School has an obligation to ensure that every student that enters its doors not only gets the
best education possible but also has the type of school experience that excites them to become
a life-long learner.
Tim Melton - Board Vice Chair
Elected by Acclamation - May 2022
Three-Year Term - Term ends May 2025
family standing in front of river

Tim is the proud husband to Melissa, and the proud father of Kaylynn and TJ.
Tim was born and raised in Roswell, NM where he graduated high school from New Mexico Military Institute.  
He attended college at Fort Lewis College as well as Kansas Wesleyan University, receiving a Business Administration degree from KWU.  
Tim and family, after calling Phoenix, AZ home for 17 years, moved to Gallatin Gateway in 2021.  Tim and Melissa enjoy being involved at GGS in school athletics, as well as other areas where they can be of good use to the school and community
Aaron Schwieterman - Trustee
Re-Elected by Acclamation May 2024
Three Year Term - Term ends May 2027
family standing in front of mountains

Greetings!  I'm currently the Gallatin Gateway School Board Chair and in my 9th year of being a Trustee for the school district. My wife, Nell, and I moved to Southwest Montana in 2009. We have two kiddos: son Weston, who is in second grade, and daughter Aubrey, who is in Kindergarten. Nell is a dentist at Hays Dental Group. I'm a stay at home dad, who also manages our horse breeding program, and coaches football at Sacajawea Middle School. We love being outside skiing, hiking, watching wildlife and hanging with the horses. Our family enjoys rodeo and running barrels.  I'm a huge sports fan! Being from Kansas City, I'm a Chiefs & BBQ fan and a Kansas State Wildcat Fanatic. We love being a part of the Gateway Community and our great school district. Go Gators!!!
Carissa Paulson - Trustee
Re-Elected by Acclamation May 2024
Three Year Term - Term ends May 2027
family standing in front of mountains

Lucky enough to have been raised in Gallatin Gateway, Carissa's professional background includes real estate and construction.  Growing up, Carissa was actively involved her family's real estate and construction businesses.  As an honors graduate of both Bozeman High School and Montana State University, Carissa has a notable passion and pride for Gallatin Gateway and Bozeman; the area’s beauty, its sense of community, the lifestyle it offers and its future as it continues to flourish with new energy and dynamic growth.  As a neighbor, trustee and mother, Carissa’s goal and mission to give back to her community and work to build a solid foundation in education for the next generation.

Brian Nickolay - Trustee
Elected by Acclamation May 2023
Three Year Term - Term ends May 2026
family standing in front of window

I am originally from New Prague, Minnesota. A small farm town in southern Minnesota. I moved to Bozeman in 2005 after attending Vermillion College in Minnesota. The following year while working as a firefighter for Yellowstone National Park I met my wife Brittany. Brittany and I were married in Yellowstone in 2008 and moved to Bozeman. I have worked for the Hyalite Fire District since 2009. I became the Fire Chief in 2021. Brittany and I have three children. Garrett, Abigail and Caleb who attend the Gallatin Gateway School. I always enjoy the outdoors fishing, hunting, hiking and camping with my family in my free time. 

The_Role_of_the_Board_of_Trustees: Card IconThe Role of the Board of Trustees:Top of Page

Citizen oversight of local government is the cornerstone of democracy in the United States. The role of the trustees who sit on locally elected school boards is to ensure that school districts are responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities of their communities. Boards fulfill this role by performing five major responsibilities. These are:
  • Setting direction
  • Establishing an effective and efficient structure
  • Providing support
  • Ensuring accountability
  • Providing community leadership as advocates for children, the school district and public schools
These five responsibilities represent core functions that are so fundamental to a school system’s accountability to the public that they can only be performed by an elected governing body. Authority is granted to the board as a whole, not each member individually. Therefore, board members fulfill these responsibilities by working together as a governance team with the superintendent to make decisions that will best serve all the students in the community.


  • Attend all regularly scheduled Board meetings insofar as possible and become informed concerning the issues to be considered at those meetings;
  • Recognize that he/she should endeavor to make policy decisions only after full discussion at public Board meetings;
  • Make all decisions based on available facts and her/her independent judgment and refuse to surrender that judgment to individuals or special interest groups;
  • Encourage the free expression of opinion by all Board members and seek systematic communications between the Board and students, staff, and all elements of the community;
  • Work with other Board members to establish effective Board policies and to delegate authority for administration to the Superintendent;
  • Recognize and respect the responsibilities that properly are delegated to the Superintendent;
  • Communicate to the Superintendent expression of public reaction to Board policies, school programs, or staff;
  • Inform his/herself about current educational issues, by individual study and through participation in programs providing needed information, such as those sponsored by the Montana and National School Boards Associations;
  • Support the employment of those persons best qualified to serve as school staff and insist on regular and impartial evaluation of staff;
  • Avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest and refrain from using his/her Board position for personal or partisan gain;
  • Avoid compromising the Board or administration by inappropriate individual action or comments and respect the confidentiality of information that is privileged under applicable law;
  • Remember always that his/her first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of students attending Gallatin Gateway School.