Virginia county allocating more than $6M for 'equity and equity training'
It comes amid a wave of parents' complaints about equity training
Loudoun County, Virginia, is planning to allocate more than $6 million for "equity" and "equity training" as part of its fiscal year 2022 budget, raising questions about how the county is responding to parents' concerns on the issue.
While controversial trainings and content related to race have surfaced in the county, it's unclear exactly what these allocations cover.
A list of questions and answers for the Loudoun Board of Supervisors shows the county responding to a request for details on equity spending. The total is $6,208,842 with the most expensive items being "teacher, english learner," ($2,990,348) and "alternative school costs" ($1,464,526).
The county is also spending $339,516 on "Instruction Facilitator, Equity and Culturally Responsive" and has allocated $565,983 for "School Counselor." "Equity training across departments" is assigned an amount of $72,000 while "diversity interview panels" is assigned $50,000.
Wayde Byard, a public information officer with LCPS, told Fox News that of "the majority -- $5.49 million or 90 percent -- is to provide equitable access to instruction and resources for our 85,867 projected students. For instance, the $2.99 million for English learner teachers is to help the 18.1 percent of our students for whom English is not a primary language succeed academically."
"The $1.4 million for the alternative school is to serve students who did not perform well in a traditional school setting and need differentiated instruction. The $565,000 for additional school counselors is to lower counseling ratios for all students."
On Wednesday afternoon, LCPS pushed back on the line items in that document.
"Almost all of this is related to instruction. It's under equity loosely," Byard said.
The document specifies that the items outlined were "additional expenses for equity included in the FY22 Budget."
Another document updated on April 15 shows the county crediting equity efforts for an increase in contractional services from $200,000 to $1.2 million.
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"The increase in contractional services is explained on page 103 and is a result of legal services of $850,000 to support the collective bargaining initiative and $75,100 added to support division-wide equity work to include professional coaching and professional learning," it reads.
The documents shed light on where taxpayer money is flowing on such a hot button issue. News previously surfaced that one diversity consulting group called the Equity Collaborative has received nearly $500,000 from the school district. According to The Washington Free Beacon, that included $90,000 in salary for Jamie Almanzan, the owner who is described as an equity leadership coach.
It appears as though some of the $6 million allocation consisted of extensions of funding from FY2021. The April 15 document lists "restored" items from that fiscal year. For example, "Instruction Facilitators, Equity, and Culturally Responsive" is listed as costing $339,516. The list also included $274,250 for a "new equity and culturally responsive instruction office," as well as "Equity Lead Stipend increase to $3820 from $2777." Overall, the document assigns a cost of $104,410 to that item. For "Executive Assistant, Equity" in the superintendent's office, the document reads "91,226."
Overall, the county is set to spend about $3.3 billion in "total appropriations for the general county government and school system for FY 2022," according to its website.
As Fox News previously reported, the county has descended into infighting as residents feud over equity trainings that employ concepts surrounding critical race theory (CRT).
Ian Prior, a Loudoun parent and former Trump administration official, told Fox News on Wednesday that the $6 million figure was an "absolute abomination."
"Loudoun County's continued implementation of critical race theory in the school system is regressive, divisive, and destructive. It has turned this county into a national punchline," he said.
"The fact that they now want to spend over $6 million a year to continue to push this morally bankrupt ideology on teachers and students is an absolute abomination. It is becoming clearer every day that someone is making a fortune on the backs of Loudoun County taxpayers and it is time for LCPS [Loudoun County Public Schools] to start communicating with parents and explain itself with more than misleading press releases from the Interim Superintendent."
LCPS did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment but the budget allocations will likely intensify mounting scrutiny of a school board facing recall efforts.
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Last week, Prior's group launched a political action committee with the goal of unseating several members who were part of a secret Facebook group where attempts were allegedly made to blacklist or coordinate harassment of residents who opposed equity trainings.
The full extent of board members' involvement is unclear but they've been accused of tacitly allowing efforts to intimidate CRT opponents.
The county has maintained that it doesn't utilize critical race theory (CRT).
"In explaining LCPS' equity priorities, it might be helpful to state what they are not. They are not an effort to indoctrinate students and staff into a particular philosophy or theory. What they are is an effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive, affirming environment for all students," said interim Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler.
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"LCPS' work on equity is a journey that requires the commitment of staff at all levels. I feel the staff's work, which has been sustained, honest and undertaken in good faith, has been misrepresented recently by some members of the public," he added.
Opponents have suggested, however, that the buzzwords and concepts employed are too similar not to be an advancement of CRT.