NBA proposal, superintendent's resignation trouble residents

Thursday, January 24th 2008, 12:37 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

A group of Oklahoma City residents is concerned that a proposed tax for improvements to the Ford Center could come at the cost of school children.

"I think the education of children are more important than an NBA team in Oklahoma City," the Rev. John Reed said.

Reed is a supporter of former Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent John Porter.

Porter resigned Wednesday after coming under fire for alleged financial irregularities. Reed and other Porter supporters will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Fairview Baptist Church, 1201 N Robinson Ave., to discuss their next steps. Supporters said the city should focus on improving its public schools instead of attracting an NBA team.

Oklahoma City council voted earlier this month to host a special election March 4 about the tax to pay for a significant upgrade and expansion of the Ford Center, as well as a new NBA practice facility.

The proposal would extend the one-penny sales tax that's currently paying for MAPS for Kids.

If approved, the tax would extend for 15 months after the MAPS tax expired.

"There is simply no connection between the city's improvements at the Ford Center and the school district's decision about the superintendent," Mayor Mick Cornett said.

Former school board member Shirley Darrell said she's opposed to the Ford Center proposal.

"Now they want to extend the MAPS tax for a basketball arena when we can't keep a superintendent," she said. "We got our priorities in the wrong place, so I am against the tax."

Roy Williams with the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said the city is too big and dynamic to take on one project at a time.

"We're always going to pay attention to our school system," he said. "We are always going to pay attention to our city, but simultaneously we have to do those things. We can't just move one of those things at a time, we have to move them all ahead concurrently."