By Christopher Johnson


A new year is underway for the Pecatonica School District and a new leader guides the students into the 2021-2022 campaign.

During an early summer gathering of District 321 leaders, Carl Carlson was selected to be the Superintendent of Schools for Pecatonica.

A majority vote determined the former Pecatonica graduate was the right person to take on the duties of retiring Superintendent Bill Faller.

As Carlson returned to a desk, from which he had occasion to look across from in his earlier days in Pecatonica, he explained that his path was set clear by the former Superintendent.

““Mr Faller did a great job with handling the finances in the District, considering the State’s fiscal condition.  My goal here is to take over those duties and prioritize needs.”  

There are some major advantages the freshman executive entered into the new year with, he explained, courtesy of the former Superintendent’s oversight.

“The building is paid for, we are looking at the facilities. We have to make sure the buildings are in tip-top shape. We look to stay fully staffed to help with that.”

One of the major problems the District is facing currently, Carlson said, is finding personnel to help out across the District’s schools.

“We are facing a teacher shortage. We have to stay fully-staffed to make sure our students have all the resources and training they need.”

Finding the right candidate who is willing to take on the duties of helping students learn is a critical need and of major importance, Carlson expressed.

“Teaching, to me, was always important. Helping the students learn is why I started. The kids look to you, they are hungry to learn and want to do good things.”

Carlson, a 1989 graduate of Pecatonica High School was asked to take over the duties of reporting to the Board, as well as assuring rules, regulations and mandates are enforced.

“That includes the State of Illinois’ order to mask up,” he stressed, during an earlier conversation.

With masking regulations being enforced and modifications to in-classroom scheduling cycling through, the primary focus will be to assure all kids can be in school this year, with very limited exception, Carlson stressed.

“We will have our kids be in school. Remote learning, at this time, will only be available to our students under quarantine who don’t have access to a vaccine.”

Some parents have stressed their support for the District’s decision and others have talked about how keeping kids in their seats at school, is still a risky situation.

In the end, Carlson explained, he understood how parents felt, but was actually limited in what could be done. Funding and accreditation were on the line for those who didn’t follow the rules this year.

“We are following the mask mandate from the Governor. His Executive Order become the law and our District will follow that.”

The first day of school was on Monday, Aug. 23 as teachers and staff held in-service meetings.

Students were asked to resume class on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Carlson said things were in place, on time for school.

“The buses will roll on Wednesday, Aug. 25 and the school will be open. We will expect to see our students, in person, five days a week.”

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