TORKELSON'S COMP.-- $168,641
Salary -- $137,937; Benefits -- $30,704
(2nd highest paid of state's 424 administrators)
ACT AND DPI SCORES -- 16.6 & 61.9
(Lowest of 21 Northern WI schools)
MERCER $25,281
Wisconsin $12,842

National $10,667

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fact vs. Fiction


The aphorism “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it” is one that Mercer School Administrator Erik Torkelson might want to consider.  At the September School Board meeting he seemed to be asking for an examination of an email which he said identified Mercer as a “failing school.”

Mercer School Facts got ahold of an email which used that term, but beyond that there was no similarity to what Torkelson said were “lies, misinformation and fabrications” in the email he claims he saw.  The email MSF received, which we will call the “real email”, contained statements of fact which are documented by the Mercer School’s own records, data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and even court records. The “real email” apparently was sent to a handful of interested Mercer residents by a group concerned citizens of Mercer.  

Key issues raised in the “real email” were: Do the dismal ACT scores constitutes a “failing school”; what is Torkelson’s real take home pay package vs. the actual contractual amount; how are Fund 80 monies actually being used (misused); and should Kelly Kohegyi be re-elected to the School Board?

First the “failing school” comment, which was mentioned just once in the “real email” but was mentioned “on multiple occasions”, according to Torkelson -- another inconsistency.  How else might the authors of the “real email” describe a school which has seen a steady decline in ACT results since Torkelson became administrator?   The Mercer ACT 2016-17 results placed Mercer at the very bottom of a list of ALL area schools – eight of them --with a 16.6 composite score, and far below the state average of 20.0 for all of the state’s 424 school district, and even below some Milwaukee inner-city schools.  Educators everywhere have recognized the ACT as “the true measure of how well a school does in educating its students”. (See MSF 10/8/17 More Bad…ACT News and 9/29/17 Mercer ACT Scores Plummet)

Another fact cited in the “real email” was that Torkelson took home $168,641 in salary and benefits when his contract provided for only $98,000 in salary and about $15,000 in benefits.  Take a look at the school’s own “Historic Labor Distribution By Employee” and judge for yourself if these were “lies, misinformation and fabrications”.

Then, the “real email” said that the bulk of Community Service Fund 80 money was paid to a few staff members.  The school’s  “Expenditure Summary Report” shows that of  the $213,000 of 2016-17 Fund 80 expenditures, $169,743, or 75% , was paid to Torkelson and a few staff members.  A meager $36,500 was reportedly spent for supplies and equipment, including $12,000 for the food fed free to anyone that wanted to come the school for it.  It’s difficult to determine what projects were actually intended for community residents because such obscure terms as “Undifferentiated Curriculum, Technology Education and Co-Curriculum Activities” were used.  The DPI requires definitive budgets with full descriptions of the projects.

One other statement in the “real email” was that Kelly Kohegyi should not be re-elected to the School Board in the 2018 spring election.  If the potential for conflict of interest – Kohegyi is Torkelson’s mother-in-law – is not enough to disqualify her, then how about the showing of the sexually explicit movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” to young school girls.  (See MSF 4/29/17 A Failed Coup d’Etat?)

Torkelson labelled the email as “slanderous”.   Slander is the spoken word and libel is the written word.  If a “counsel” really did help him with this misinterpretation of libel, and what constitutes libel, he needs a new attorney.


Anonymous said...

As a retired attorney I can tell you that the email I was asked to review does not meet any of the tests for libel, and it certainly is not slander. I seriously doubt if a “counsel” would render such an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t there a law against practicing law without a license?

Anonymous said...

Of course Pierpont and Tokelson’a mother-in-law Kelly Kohegyi will go along with Torkelson’s charade, but we hope the other board members are smart enough not to put themselves in embarrassing positions and one that could result in serious repercussions.

Anonymous said...

One person at the September meeting was set up to say that he “enthusiastically encouraged” the board to prosecute the persons responsible for the ”email that’s so slanderous.” It clear that, like Torkelson, he doesn’t know the difference between libel and slander. He probably didn’t even know the many facts contained in the email except what he may been told when being coached.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this guy embarrassed for being duped and being so gullible? I hope he doesn't hold any responsible positions in our community.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

In the words of comedian Ron White, "You can't fix stupid."

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Torkelson realizes that by persisting with this baseless and ridiculous nonsense he could be opening a “pail of worms.” It could result in the demands for all kinds of detailed information about how he managed to take home $168,000 in pay and benefits, mostly without any school board approval,and the about legally required details regarding Fund 80 spending.

Christa A. Reinert said...

To my supporters and skeptics, I ran on the premise of transparency, for the students, staff and the tax payers. I repeatedly am not given the information I have asked for. I asked for the composite ACT Aspire scores for the Freshman/Sophomore classes - DENIED, yet I received them last year. A detailed financial outline of Fund 80 spending (Fund 80 budget was less than $4,000 before Erik's tenure, his first year as administrator he budgeted $257,000, in 6 years exceeding $1.5 million dollars)- DENIED. I've asked for a year end 16/17 Fund 80 expenditure - DENIED, I was told it's being audited except it's audited annually and the DPI assured me I should be able to get a copy. I've asked for an explanation of Erik's payroll totaling over $137K for 16/17 when his contract plus benefits should not exceed $116K - DENIED. In fact Erik sent me an email stating that my questioning of him is the very definition of harassment and he can not perform his job duties in this unsafe environment. According to the DPI, I am his boss and they told me he needs to answer questions when his boss asks. And my list goes on! Historically, these people have harassed me to the extreme going back to the orchestrated Restraining order hearing (when Erik and Deanna testified against me while our children were enrolled in Mercer school), our daughter not finishing her Freshman year of school because of severe bullying she was undergoing with some coaching staff and students she was friends with for a decade of her life, the July 2016 meeting when Nancy Lundquist was encouraged to accuse me of stealing her maps during public comment(spee dee got the address wrong), the September meeting when Ms. Koheygi broke a federal and state law (the DPI confirmed with me she did and so did the school's own attorney) when she read the pre-written essay disclosing the transfer of our children out of this school. This is just the tip of ice berg!! To all of you parents in Mercer school district I want you to know my primary concern is for your kid's education and their future. I know most of the high school enrollment and I genuinely feel heartbroken when I see ACT scores 16.6 - all those students are smarter than this and deserve more from Mercer school. Standing up for your kids' is your right as a parent and I want to encourage you to do so before it's too late. To all of you who support me, I can't win this battle alone so please get involved. Sincerely, Christa A. Reinert, parent, business owner, 6 parcel tax payer, 21 year community and school supporter and Mercer BOE Member.

Anonymous said...

Wiktionary definition of a fool -- A person with poor judgement or little intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that a Mercer teacher told his class that he was going to get a hunting license so he could shoot Republicans? Regardless of your politics, this is an unconscionable thing to say to children, particularly with all of the school shootings going on? I hope this is just a rumor, but if it isn’t what’s being done about it?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Someone shoot really look into that one. Vagas or maybe spring concert

Anonymous said...

Is it true that plans are in the works for a "enclosed sports center" on East Echo Lake Rd and J? Millions of dollars would be another levy besides the school levy? Who is proposing this?