Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Torkelson’s Contract – Part 1


A recent exchange of comments in Mercer School Facts displayed that there is a good amount of confusion and lack of knowledge about the employment contract of Administrator Erik Torkelson.   

This interest has been prompted by the new Mercer School Board’s apparent attempt to terminate Torkelson, who has been on medical leave since last June.  Since then the board has delved into the school’s financial and academic records, apparently leading to the realization that Torkelson must not be allowed back in the school.  The board named as an interim administrator, Sheri Kopka, to help correct many of the wrongs created during Torkelson’s eight-year reign of mismanagement.  And they have been making progress.

But the troubling problem remains:  How do they terminate Torkelson?  Complicating the issue is that firing a person while on medical leave could expose the school district to a discrimination lawsuit because it might appear the person is being terminated due to a medical condition.

Of course, this is not the case with Torkelson, who should have been terminated years ago for mismanaging the education of the children and for unaccounted spending, including paying himself far more than the terms of his contract.

Torkelson was hired in 2011 by his then future mother-in-law and school board President Kelly Kohegyi, without any experience as an administrator.  He was given an overly generous annual salary of $98,000, plus about $30,000 in benefits.

Somehow, he managed to pay himself over $150,000 in most subsequent years without any explanation and without being questioned by a school board which he controlled.  Then, too, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction earlier ruled that Torkelson had misspent $185,465 of Fund 80 money in two years.  It did not investigate the other six years of Torkelson’s reign. 
The last of Torkelson’s minions. Micki Holmstrom, left the school board this last April, and one of his longtime supporters, former board President Deanna Pierpont, was rejected by Mercer voters in her bid to be elected back on the board, also this last April.  His mother-in-law, Kelly Kohegyi, and another minion, Denise Thompson, were voted off the board in earlier elections. 

So, what is in the contract?  Part 2 coming up.


IT IS HEREBY AGR.EED by and between the Board of Education of the School District of Mercer (Board or District) and Erik Torkelson, that the Board does hereby employ Erik Torkelson in the position as stated below. 

The School Board of the Mercer School District (hereinafter referred to as the Board) and Erik Torkelson agree to the following contract for the position of Superintendent. This contract is for an automatic and continuous term, beginning on July 1, 2011, and ending two (2) years from the date the school board votes to stop the contract from continuing on such automatic and continuous basis. For purposed of salary and benefits increases, each July 1st is designated as the anniversary date of the contract. 

Mr. Torkelson will assume the position of District Superintendent beginning July 1, 2011 provided Mr, Torkelson has obtained appropriate licensure and successfully carried out his job duties and responsibilities. This contract shall cover twelve (12) months/260 days per year under a schedule approved by the School District of Mercer. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

“Irresponsible, disrespectful, and shameful”


Under ordinary circumstances it becomes prudent to ignore minor irresponsible acts of others. But when those acts are so extreme that they endanger people’s lives, they cannot be overlooked.