Springfield, Ill. – Following the potential reduction of more than $20,000 in state funding at Chester School District due to hosting a wake for a fallen police officer, state Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Smithton, passed legislation on Monday that would allow schools to use up to two days off to host funerals for community members.
“The community of Chester already faced a devastating loss when it came to the tragedy of losing Officer James Brockmeyer last fall,” Costello said. “For Chester to be penalized for dismissing school early to host his funeral in the gymnasium is nothing but wrong. As many people are aware in rural areas, the high school gymnasium is often the only option when it comes to having a large community gathering, and in this case, it was the only option in helping to honor Officer Brockmeyer and his sacrifice.”
Students attended class for three hours that day before being dismissed to prepare for the wake of Officer Brockmeyer. The Illinois State Board of Education denied the district’s claim for an interrupted day, and Chester School District is now facing a loss of over $20,000 in state funds from general state aid. Costello’s legislation would permit school districts to allow local or county authorities to use a school to hold a memorial or wake for a community member and face no loss of funding for up to two days a calendar year.
“While the students may have been dismissed early, many of them learned a lot that isn’t contained in a book, by helping prepare for the memorial and working in the community,” said Costello. “I also believe it helped a lot of students understand the importance of the sacrifices our law enforcement and first responders make, with some of them giving their lives in the line of duty. As a former police officer, I will continue to make sure that we honor our law enforcement officers and all of those who put their lives on the line for our communities.”
Costello’s legislation, House Bill 1254, passed the Illinois House on Monday with unanimous support and now awaits action in the Senate.
State Rep. Jerry Costello II represents Illinois’ 116th District, which includes all or parts of St. Clair, Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties. His office can be reached by phone at 618-282-7284 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.