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Canutillo moves forward with building agriculture facility at disputed location

Board members at the Canutillo Independent School District took action on a highly contested topic Wednesday evening.

Last year the district voted to approve a million dollar agriculture barn and this year the board approved a change in the location for that barn.

The change created divisiveness among board members.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted to approve the changes to the project.

A 4-to-2 vote approved to continue with the project at a location some board members and students were against.

With much dispute and a call for security at one point – board members voted to approve changes that included building the agricultural center at Canutillo Middle School instead of a location near Sofia Garcia Elementary School.

Future Farmers of America students stood by to speak against the decision but were not allowed public comment by board president Blanca Trout.

“It just keeps leading to disappointment,” student Amanda Hull said.

“They don’t want us to say what we think and they want to get it done and over with,” student Kara Villarreal added.

Trout said the students were not allowed to speak because it didn’t follow protocol.

“It was not in our agenda. We need to follow our curriculum and our rule of orders,” Trout said.

Students said they oppose the new location for several reasons.

“We’re going from a place of 25 acres to a place of less than five,” student Patrick Guerrero said.

“We have to knock down buildings,” Hull said.

“We are not going to have as many opportunities as we will at the other location where we want it,” Villarreal said.

Trout said the new location is more convenient and it builds a pipeline for younger students.

“They can see it, that’s where I’m going to go next year in high school so they can feel more familiar to that agricultural idea,” Trout said.

A little more than $950,000 were set aside for the barn project and the construction will cost about $846,000.

District Superintendent Pedro Galaviz said the agricultural and science facility will help develop future veterinarians and agricultural specialists in the region.

“As long as we’re focused on kids, that’s our No.1 goal, No.1 priority in Canutillo,” Galaviz said.

There’s still a lot for board members to review. They are expecting to see costs for surveying the land, demolition of existing buildings and asbestos removal if needed.

Board members said they expect the costs to fall within budget.

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