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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


 The November Mercer School Board meeting was “pathetic” for what
Mercer youths update school banner
didn’t happen as well as for what did happen.
The “didn’t happen” included what many people had showed up for, and that was an explanation of how Mercer received a Department of Public Instruction School Report Card  score of 61.9 – “Meets Few Expectations”.  The score put Mercer at the bottom of the list of all area schools and in the bottom 20 of all of the state’s 422 school districts.  (See MSF 11/21/17 “Mercer 2016-17 DPI Report Card Score”)
Last year, when the score was better, Administrator Erik Torkelson spent much of the board meeting time gloating over the score with an elaborate slide presentation.  But this year, not a mention of the DPI School Report score, which many of those in attendance had come to hear.
The same held true earlier in the year when Torkelson and his school board cronies totally ignored what is probably the most important rating  a school can receive – the ACT test results.  They ignored those results because Mercer, with a composite score of 16.6 and with 87.5% of those tested as not proficient in English, reading, writing, math and science, was well below the average of all state schools and at the bottom of the list of all area schools and even below Milwaukee inner-city schools .  (See MSF 10/8/17 “More Bad -- Really Bad – ACT News”)
What “did happen” at the November meeting was a presentation by Torkelson of a Community Service Fund 80 $203,000 budget.  What was “pathetic” about it was that the legally required steps for developing and approving the Fund 80 budget had been ignored.  The DPI and state statutes require that the School Board must approve the budget and then a public hearing must be held.  Neither ever happened.
The Fund 80 budget, as in the past, includes many of the mostly questionable community services, which will be discussed in another blog.
Ignoring the law and DPI rules seems to be normal procedure.  For instance, early on Tuesday, November 28, a notice was sent to School Board members that a special meeting would be held at 10 a.m. that day for the purpose of setting the December meeting date.  State law requires that such notice must be given a minimum of 24 hours before a meeting, except for emergency situations, and that a public notice must also be posted.  In Mercer’s case, the notice is routinely posted in the Iron County Miner and at the bank or town hall.  It couldn’t have been in the Miner because the paper won’t be published until Thursday, and it’s doubtful that it was posted at the bank or town hall.
Finally, at the November School Board meeting, was the reading by School Board President Deanna Pierpont of a letter supposedly written by a Mercer student.  The letter, which also appeared in the “Letters of the Editor” section of the Lakeland Times, falsely accused Mercer resident Rick Duley of calling Mercer students “pathetic”.
Mr. Duley said nothing of kind.  In fact, here’s what he said as was accurately quoted in the Iron County Miner:
“ACT results are recognized by practically all educators as a true measure of how well a school does in educating their students.” He then asked the Mercer School Board to “pledge that you’ll do everything, come hell or high water, to get the ACT scores in this district up, because they are pathetic at this time, and basically, these kids couldn’t get into college with these scores.”
Mr. Duley was actually trying to help the Mercer students and, as his statement proves, he was certainly not criticizing them.
Did the writer(s) of the letter mistakenly or purposely misrepresent Mr. Duley’s intent?  You be the judge.


Anonymous said...

Before any more idiots make themselves look foolish with comments to the letter in the Times, they need to read what Duley actually said as reported in the Miner.

Christa Reinert said...

Actually I need to correct MSFs, as I first received the email from Deanna, today at about 5:30 am notifying me of the meeting to be held in Erik Torkelson's office at 10 am Tuesday to vote on the Dec meeting date. I did receive a group text about the meeting from Ms.Pierpont on Tuesday after 1 pm. This is the third case of zero notifications to me for a special meeting of the board. After being told the Dec meeting is Tues 19, I've since asked what conflicts there are for the board that we can not have the meeting on Monday December 18? I have not received an actual reason(s), however it is a major conflict for me as I will have to make the decision to attend my kid's game on Tues or attend the meeting. Thanks to the board for their consideration of my schedule, oh that's right I wasn't considered as I wasn't aware of the "emergency" meeting.

Anonymous said...

Doesn’t anyone read or understand what Duley REALLY said at the meeting. The Iron County Miner and even the FYI reporter used verbatim quotes in which Duley said the ACT scores are pathetic, which they are. (Read the page 1 story in the Nov. 30 edition of the Miner.) Duley NEVER said anything about the students being pathetic or anything negative about the students or staff. He was urging school board members to work to get the ACT scores up. Ernie Moore of the Miner, the FYI reporter and several other people have actually recordings. Further proof would result if Torkelson would allow us to see the meeting video. But then we would hear what was actually said, and that wouldn’t serve his purpose.

Anonymous said...


Can't believe they still have their jobs said...

I know that Mr Duley meant nothing negative towards the students. On the contrary he was attempting to help them.

This is just another tactic from the Torkelson playbook. He tries to make himself look good by making others look bad. In other words deflecting the issues.

It would seem to me that having the students write letters at the school or even the idea of suggesting it to them, is at very least highly unethical.

This is yet another example of why he SHOULD NOT be district administrator.

Ben Dover said...

To Christa Reinert on November 30, 2017 at 1:15 PM

I can tell you I attended many Mercer School Board meetings where the board members spent more time with their calendars out scheduling meetings around any personal commitments, kids in games, etc.

It is obvious they are not treating you with the same consideration and respect.

Anonymous said...

Until now we thought the reason for not allowing the public to see the video of the disgraceful October meeting was to keep them from seeing one board member shout obscenities and another attack a speaker. But it’s possible that another reason was to allow lies to be spread about what was actually said at the meeting and encourage others to write about it with the wrong information.

Anonymous said...

But, can’t they read what was in the newspapers and understand what was really said?

Can't believe they still have their jobs said...

I was there for morning announcements one day when Torkelson told the kids to go home and tell their parents to vote for Kelly Koheygi.

Highly unethical, if not illegal.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ben Dover said...

Hey, did anyone else read the story in the Iron County Miner about the school scores? Mercer Schoolfacts was right on about the dismal scores from Mercer School.

According to the article Mercer was 2nd from the bottom of local schools in Overall Accountability or Meets Few Expectations. But it gets worse, they ere the lowest in ACT scores at 16.6 of the local schools.

And Torkelson is threatening to sue someone for telling the truth? If I were him I would be apologizing up and down and be ashamed of the poor job I am doing.

All I can say is that thanks to Torkelson's leadership, or should I say, lack there of, he is guiding the school to the bottom of the heap. And the four Mercer School Board members who don't want to change are complicit in this travesty of education.

And the students and taxpayers suffer yet again.

Way to go Torky!

Anonymous said...

Hey, did you guys know that Mercer teachers are allowed to take off as many days as they want, whenever they want, as long as they find "coverage" for their classes? What this means is that the district rarely hires substitute teachers, and instead forces classroom teaches to watch multiple classes at a time, sometimes three or more. Do you really think that these students are learning anything in such an environment? This includes when teachers take time off for professional development and the district is given money to hire substitutes. Where do you think that money goes, if not toward hiring subs?

Could it be that this is one contributing factor toward the "pathetic" test scores across the board at Mercer School?

Anonymous said...

Did you know that some of the teachers like to plug a movie in and go sit at their desk and play,talk and fool around on their cell phone. Go on school phones and do things that would get them fired in a other school.