Chester, IL school district denied funding during closure for fa - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Chester, IL school district denied funding during closure for fallen officer

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)
CHESTER, IL (KFVS) -

When the City of Chester lost Officer James Brockmeyer last October, city leaders shut down the school for his wake and funeral.

Now, school officials say they need to change the law to cover time lost.

Regional Superintendent of Schools Kelton Davis said a few hours out of class could cost the school district more than $20,000.

"This is a very significant loss to not only our community, but our region," Davis said.

Davis said when Officer James Brockmeyer died last October the district had to act quickly.

"This was actually beyond the control of the school district, and the welfare of our students," Davis said.

On November 3, 2016, students had class for 3 hours.

"They had to make preparations not only in the school, but in the community. So, many of the students volunteered to help with parade routes," Davis said.

Legally, if school is let out early, they need to claim five hours for funding, unless there is a significant weather event, or Act of God.

"As long as there's one hour of instruction, they can claim it as a full day of attendance to get their funding."

The Illinois Board of Education denied their request.

They released a statement to KFVS:

We sympathize with the family of the fallen officer and the school district community.

While the district’s decision to close for the wake does not meet the requirements of an interrupted school day as outlined in statute (105 ILCS 5/18-12),  ISBE has worked closely with the district and we are offering assistance wherever we can to help the school avoid the school calendar penalty. We have advised that the district apply for a retroactive waiver to be absolved of the penalty and provided technical assistance in the drafting of HA 1 to HB 1254 which would prevent the penalty from being applied.

Kelton said the operating costs are $21,000.

The board released a statement saying the district can apply for a waiver, but Kelton said that would take too much time.

He's decided to try and change the law instead with the help of State Representatives Schimpf and Costello.

House bill 1254 aims to allow schools to close if the facilities are needed for the funeral of a community member.

"There is concern that we lost two hours of instruction that day, but the actual life lessons that these students in their volunteering, and participating at both the wake and funeral. It certainly is an unfortunate learning opportunity, but one that you have to capture. It's what builds our citizenry," Davis said.

The bill is currently under discussion in the Illinois House of Representatives.

If it passes, the district would receive retroactive funding.

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