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COLUMBIA - Columbia educators expressed support for a proposal that would help pay for expansion at the Columbia Regional Airport.

The Columbia Public Schools Board of Education met at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman presented the benefits of a potential one percent increase in the hotel tax, including funds going toward the expansion of the Columbia Regional Airport.

Stiepleman believes the airport needs to expand as the city of Columbia continues to grow. "The airport is the first thing people see when they come to our city, and right now it does not reflect us well," Stiepleman said.

Teachers are often sent away for certifications and training, but they are forced to leave from either St. Louis or Kansas City. The board of education hopes the airport expansion will make these trips easier for educators.

"We employ 27,000 people, and that is a big part of the community. We send people outside of the city to train and instead of sending them to St. Louis or Kansas City we want to fly them out of Columbia," Stiepleman said. 

One board member, Paul Cushing, said he's okay with the current airport. 

"I like the way the airport is now, its quaint, easy to get in and out of and there's free parking," Cushing said.

If voters pass the tax increase, the money raised would help pay for a new terminal, expanded security and more parking at the airport.

The hotel tax would affect people coming into and visiting Columbia. Stiepleman believes this tax would benefit the entire community and wanted his presentation to show the support of Columbia's educators.

Voters will decide on the tax increase on the August ballot.

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