Fyrwald hopes to bring business experience school board | AspenTimes.com

Fyrwald hopes to bring business experience school board

John Colson

School board candidate Ernie Fyrwald.

Ernie Fyrwald figures he’s got the experience, outlook and business acumen that would benefit the Aspen School District board of directors.He can look back at 26 years in the valley, a time in which he has owned several businesses, been involved in numerous civic organizations and sports-oriented groups, and raised four children now going through the Aspen School District schools.In a recent interview, Fyrwald said he has run sports-related businesses (Sportstalker, Aspen Sports); played in sports all his life and, as a parent of active kids, been heavily involved in local sporting organizations. He currently is an owner of the Morris & Fyrwald real estate company in Aspen.His interest in serving on the school board, he said, reflects his feeling that it is time to “try the cerebral, or educational, side instead of just sports.”Fyrwald, 50, is married. Besides his sports volunteerism, he said he has acted as a chaperone for nine Experiential Education trips over the years and has worked with the Aspen Education Foundation to raise money for the school district.”As parents, we’re pretty involved,” he said.He sold his interest in the Aspen Sports chain in the late 1990s, took his kids out of school and went off to live in Spain and France from 1998 to 2001. His kids went to bilingual schools in Paris and Madrid.He felt it would be beneficial, he said, to “separate my kids from what I call the Aspen comfort zone” and expose them to life outside the valley, the state and the United States.”I wanted them to see a different lifestyle,” he said. “They loved it.”He called it “a great challenge for them to learn another language and how to get around in an environment that was totally foreign to them.”He said he wants to bring a businessman’s sense of finance and organizational principles to the school board. He said he plans to “try to improve on every aspect [of the district’s mission] a little bit at a time, instead of fighting fires.”He spoke highly of the current staff at the district offices, noting that “[Superintendent Diana] Sirko is a true blessing to the school district.”He said he has no particular agenda but wants to look at “the whole platform” of district obligations.”I think if you get involved with the school board based on your own backyard issues, you’re making a mistake,” he said. He plans to work on “quality teacher retention, quality teacher enticement.”And he said he supports the district’s bid for additional operational money on the Nov. 1 ballot (Question 3A) as well as the proposal to build a new middle school and make additions and upgrades to Aspen Elementary School (Question 3B).He said he does not believe the two ballot questions reflect a hidden agenda on the part of the school district to increase the number of out-of-district students (known as “choice students”) to give the district access to increased per-pupil state funding, as some skeptics have suggested regarding the middle school project.If Aspen’s student population begins to approach the maximum of 1,500 for the district’s Maroon Creek Road campus (500 students per building), Fyrwald said he would consider barring any new choice students from enrolling here.But he said he could think of no circumstances under which he would condone kicking out current students who don’t live in the district.He said he is generally in favor of the current method of using standardized tests to measure performance by students and entire schools, noting that “Aspen now has to have a benchmark of some sort” and that it has little choice but to do what “puts everybody on the same level” with regard to college admissions.He said he was not sure if the Colorado Student Assessment Program test is providing local graduates with sufficient knowledge to get into the colleges of their choice.Fyrwald said the current school board has “done such a good job” of finding good staffers and establishing sound guiding principles for the district that it makes the school board’s job “a lot easier.”John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com