Measure would allow memorial services in schools without loss of funding
Schools might soon be able to allow local municipalities to utilize their facilities to hold emergency memorial services for fallen heroes or community members and have those days count toward their minimum school terms, thanks to a bill proposed by Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) that passed the Senate on Friday after previously passing the House.
HB1254 would prevent schools from losing part of their state aid by counting the services as partial school days.
“What this bill does is it changes the code to expand the list of categories for which partial days of attendance count towards the minimum school term,” Schimpf said. “The bill adds a third category: use of school facilities by local or county authorities to hold a municipal service. This is something that is fairly common in our rural school districts, where a lot of times the high school auditorium is the only suitable facility in the community. “
Services would be allowed to begin with the 2016-2017 school year. The bill is awaiting Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature.
The bill was born out of tragedy, when Chester police officer James Brockmeyer was killed in action and Chester School District 139 was denied a day of attendance by the Illinois State Board of Education when it dismissed Chester High School students early to hold a memorial service. The denial cost the district more than $20,000 in general state aid.
“What this was in response to is on Oct. 28 201, Officer James Brockmeyer of the Chester Police Department was killed during a high-speed chase,” Schimpf said. “Officer Brockmeyer was also a volunteer firefighter. They had the memorial at Chester High School Auditorium. The governor attended the memorial service. Pursuant to security concerns, students were dismissed early on the day of service. The State Board of Education declined to classify this as an interrupted school day.”
The District 139 Board of Education decided to make up for the school day by holding the last day of student attendance on May 19.
Officer Brockmeyer died when his patrol car veered of the road as he was pursuing a fleeing vehicle. He had served with the department for only 10 months, having graduated from the Southwestern Illinois Police Academy in April of that year.
Organizations in this Story
1330 Swanwick Street
Chester, IL 62233