EL PASO, Texas - (Nov. 2012 story)
There are several public offices up for grabs in next Tuesday's election. But the area were El Paso County voters spend most of their tax dollars is in school districts and four districts have contested board seats this election cycle.
There are board seats in play in Canutillo, Clint, Tornillo and Fabens. I spoke with one Canutillo property owner and parent who is looking for change, and like people behind me, voted today.
"A lot of money gets spent," said Canutillo property owner and parent Claudia Terrazas.
Like most El Paso County taxpayers, Terrazas will pay nearly 50% to 60% of her taxes to her school district. In her case, it's the Canutillo Independent School District.
"People get used to others giving them all their money," Terrazas said.
Authorities say in 2008, when Canutillo's current Superintendent Damon Murphy was the assistant superintendent at El Paso Independent School District. He sent emails to staff directing them to hold back 9th grade transfer students, regardless of their credits.
In Clint, right now six out of seven Clint Independent School District. Board members come from Clint. Only one comes from Horizon City, and parents from Horizon and Montana Vista accuse the board of directing more money toward Clint than the other schools.
In Fabens Independent School District, some current board members have been accused of using district finances for personal use.
And at Tornillo Independent School District Superintendent Paul Vranish, who has agreed to resign, is under a Texas Education Agency investigation accused of improper reimbursements.
The power of the districts' purse strings may reside in the hands of the current and future board trustees, but to Terrazas, the Canutillo resident, says it's people like her who have the real power.
"The people we have to inform is the parents," Terrazas said.
Each district has anywhere from three to six candidates all vying for the trustee positions. Doña Ana County will have elections in February, other El Paso County districts are up for election in May.
(Nov. 2012 story)