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Columbus school officials face questions about defecit

Columbus Public Schools hosted the first of six community meetings Wednesday evening to get public response to the district's budget deficit and proposed solutions to balance the budget. Columbus school teachers, parents and others questioned the superintendent and board members for more than an hour about proposed cuts to sports, music programs and teachers.

Parents questioned why the district did not pass an operating levy before passing last year's bond issue. Teachers questioned why their programs sat on the chopping block. Others asked why the community should support a levy when the district is still in academic trouble.

District Superintendent Gene Harris and board members tried to highlight the district's accomplishments--coming out of academic emergency last year, increasing the graduation rate and having stretched the 1996 operating levy for nearly 8 years.