School flap stunts city's growth, leaders say

Wednesday, January 9th 2008, 7:08 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Will the suspension of Oklahoma City's schools superintendent John Q. Porter hurt the city's ability to attract new business?

OCU Business School Dean Vince Orza said the recent turmoil makes it harder for Oklahoma City to compete with other cities for new businesses.

There is a real connection between the health of the local economy and the health of the local schools, Orza said. 

"When people are looking for a place to relocate their business, generally one of the first questions they ask is 'tell me about your school system,'" Orza said. "This is not good news for us."

Fueled by MAPS for Kids, the historically troubled Oklahoma City school district had appeared to be on the rise the last several years and less of a liability, from an economic development standpoint, Orza said. However,  the controversy surrounding Dr. Porter would appear to be a setback, he added.

"It could be viewed that way, it could also be viewed as we have high standards, and those standards are going to be met," said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

Cornett said it's critical that nothing, including any personnel matters at the school's administrartion building, be allowed to tarnish the city's image or slow its momentum.

"I think cooler heads are going to prevail, and everyone that I'm talking to realizes that what happens to the children comes first," Cornett said. "What happens to the city's reputation is paramount." 

Some of the superintendent's supporters threaten to campaign against the city's NBA tax vote  March 4 as a way to protest Dr. Porter's treatment. The mayor said the two issues are not connected.

Read the complete investigative report into John Porter HERE.

Read the previous story on Porter's suspension HERE.