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Accusations fly at Canutillo ISD Board meeting

CANUTILLO, Texas - A controversial multi-purpose agriculture and science facility, with a price tag of nearly $1 million leads to a heated debate at Tuesday's Canutillo ISD Board meeting.

The building will serve as a classroom for agricultural students.

The board has already approved $950,623 for total project with $846,100 of this amount awarded for the design and construction of the building.

But a new estimate shows a proposed additional $244,614 dollars being added on to the project.

And that has some board members pointing fingers at each other.

It was Canutillo school board member Mary Iglesias who first questioned the upgrades to the multi-purpose agriculture and science faciitiy -- or barn project.

"There are upgrades that we were not informed of and I want to know how they came about, what happened and why we weren't informed," Iglesias said.

The project has been discussed at staff meetings for months.

Board member Laure Searls attended most of those. It's the belief of board member Armando Rodriguez that she has been pushing the cost over budget.

Searls denied the accusation and countered by asking the board why members have not been attending the staff meetings.

"We would be breaking the law. If we did not post this meeting and we have more than four board members present," Rodriguez said.

"Then four go away and three stay," Sears said.

"No, you can't. That's a walking quorum. You have seen in the past what has happened with different governmental bodies," Rodriguez said.

That is when superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz jumped in with a request.

"Please keep my staff out of this political agenda, whatever you are trying to do to each other.  Let's serve kids," Galaviz said.

Rodriguez questions the motives of Searls.  She lives just down the road from where the barn will be built near Gonzalo and Sofia Garcia elementary school on Westside Drive.

He believes Searls pushed for the project to limit development in her neighborhood.  Searls denies the accusation.

While no action was taken on the issue at the board meeting, member Blanca Trout made a very strong suggestion to staff overseeing the project. 

"Let's stick to the original budget and stop this nonsense," said Trout.

Searls said one of the proposed upgrades includes bathrooms and showers for students who will use the facility.

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