“I call it the Pantheon,” said one Lumberton middle school student, “Its function and design are close enough to the original’s looks and purpose to justify the nomenclature.”
While passers-by and students make quips about the Performing Arts Center and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Dome near Lumberton High School, city officials are faced with a puzzling problem: how to bail out the school’s pet project and extract more funds from financially hard-pressed taxpayers, who are struggling under the burden of exorbitant federal taxes, excessive state taxes, and skyrocketing local rates.
Members of the school board apparently stretched the boundaries of mathematics whenever they accepted the offer of a $3 million grant from FEMA, knowing full well that the project had insufficient funds to even get off the ground.
The Beaumont Enterprise quotes Lumberton ISD Superintendent John Valastro as saying, “When people say, ‘Why did you start something you can’t finish,’ well, I can give you three million reasons.” Taxpayers are fairly sure that none of those three million reasons include private property, future generations, or fiscal responsibility.
The school board decided to proceed without heeding common sense or crunching numbers, and Valastro reasoned that “$3 million from a grant is something we weren’t going to get again.”
While the $3 million covers around 75% (or less) of the dome, it covers only a measly 33% of the total project. Previously city officials and the school board assured citizens that funds were plentiful enough to cover the project.
Lumberton’s botched attempt at recreating the Pantheon is a prime example of first-stage thinking, a theory only thought out to the immediate future; furthermore, it is a pitiful theory relying on ideal conditions and the total absence of setbacks.
The grossly inaccurate initial estimates for the dome were either altered to ease public opinion or were entirely wrong in the first place, and perhaps a combination of both, since it should not be put past the city officials who are proud of the project (and even claim full responsibility for its existence) to downplay the costs of the dome.
If anything, the situation is ironic since it has finally been proven that not even the School Board can understand math.