TORKELSON COMP. $165,963
Contract $98,000; Benefits $30,000
3rd highest paid of state's 424 admin.
Wis. DPI Supt comp. $121,307
Cost per student Mercer $24,910,
Wis. $12,942, Nation $10,667
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 422 Wis. schools




Saturday, March 30, 2019


Improve Education, Stop Wasteful Spending
SAVE OUR SCHOOL – ELECT CHRISTA REINERT AND JIM HANNEMANN
Your vote in Tuesday’s School Board election could be one of the most important votes you will ever cast.  It will decide if you want Mercer’s children to receive a quality education and If you want to stop your school tax dollars from being wasted and misspent.
You will be able to choose two candidates – CHRISTA REINERT and JIM HANNEMANN – who have pledged to represent the best interests of the students, staff and Mercer taxpayers.  The other two candidates on the School Board election ballot want to maintain the status quo – and the status quo is not good. 
The status quo has resulted in academic results which have fallen far short of what the children need and deserve.  Under Administrator Erik Torkelson, the school’s ACT composite score has plummeted from above state and national averages to unacceptable levels.  Prior to Torkelson’s hiring, the Mercer school’s ACT composite average was 21.4.  Since his arrival in 2011 it has averaged 18.3, with 2017 being an unacceptably low 16.6.  Mercer’s Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction School Report Card score has also crashed to where Mercer is at the very bottom of a list of the state’s 422 school districts.
The status quo has also seen thousands of dollars of taxpayer money misspent.  The DPI has ruled that in 2015-16 and 2016-17 $175 248 of Community Service Fund 80 money was misspent for non-community purposes and $145,916 of that amount was improperly paid to Torkelson and a few of his select staff members.  The DPI is continuing its investigation for other years.
The status quo has also allowed Torkelson to pay himself thousands of dollars in excess of his contracted salary and benefits without any School Board oversight.  His contract is for $98,000, plus benefits of about $30,000, for a maximum total of about $128,000 a year.  But somehow, he has managed to pay himself well in excess of that amount every year since his mother-in-law Kelly Kohegyi hired him, including $168,641 in 2016-17 and $165,962 in 2017-18.
The status quo has resulted in rulings of embarrassing public records and open meetings violations and in continuing on-going investigations into other open meetings and public records violations, testing administration and scoring improprieties, and other Fund 80 spending abuses.
Until now three of the five members of School Board have been totally controlled by Torkelson and have blindly ignored his failed programs.  One of the three, Noel Brandt, has resigned and moved out of the area.  Another, Deanna Pierpont, has chosen not to seek reelection, possibly feeling the heat of on-going investigations.  One remains, Micki Pierce-Holstrom, owner of Century 21 Pierce Realty, who, like the other two, have done as told by Torkelson. 
Torkelson has now hand picked his two candidates to try to maintain his three member control of the Board.  One of his “status quo” candidates has charged that bringing up these matters is “negativism” and reflects badly on the students.  We have good students, just an administrator and School Board that do not know how to provide the education they need. The Mercer community needs to know about these failings, many of which are still on-going, in order to right the wrongs of the past and present. 
When REINERT and HANNEMANN are elected they will join Karl Anderson on the Board, and Torkelson will lose his control of the School Board.  This swing in the balance of power will give us a School Board which is sorely needed – one that will assume its rightful designated responsibility to serve the best interests of the students, staff and community.
SAVE OUR SCHOOL – ELECT CHRISTA REINERT AND JIM HANNEMANN

11 comments:

  1. What else could you expect from an administrator who had no qualifications or experience when his mother-in law and then school board president Kelly Kohegyi hired him? Before that he was an English teacher and then a middle school principal with that position lasting only 1 year.

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  2. Mercer School FactsMarch 30, 2019 at 3:12 PM

    Someone wrote and said that the $98,000 a month pay for Torkelson is wrong and that it is $113,000. A new contract was never submitted or approved by the board. Therefore, the pay he is legally entitled to is $98,000 a year.

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    1. Under the law, a school board cannot simply give a pay increase – or bonus – to a school employee without including it in and approving a new contract. This also applies to the $11,000 bonus the board erroneously gave Torkelson two years ago. He must repay both of these – the $15,000 and $11,000 – back to the taxpayers.

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  3. Bob Davis and Paul Chaney have not said a word about fixing the school’s problems, the unacceptable Act and DPI report card scores, the Fund 80 monies which the DPI has said were illegally used, recovering the money the administrator was not entitled to pay himself, and the on-going investigations. Christa Reinert and Jim Hannemann have publicly said that they will address all of these and other issues which have put the school in the sad state it is in under Torkelson.

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  4. Chaney has said he wants to maintain “orderly board meetings by demonstrating civility”. If he had been to any of the meetings before running for the school board, he would know that Christa Reinert and Karl Anderson have always only asked questions in a civil and polite manner. His name doesn’t appear in any of the minutes as a SB attendee so how would he know it hasn’t been anything but civil?

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    1. Interesting! Bob Davis’s name very rarely appeared on the attendee lists before he was picked to run for the school board. Jim Hannemann’s and, of course, Christa Reinert’s names are there for every meeting over the past several years. They ought to REALLY know what has been going on.

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  5. Sadly, Paul Chaney says nothing, and Bob Davis uses a multitude of words to say nothing. The committee for negative action is fixated on the fact that the children of Mercer School are doing wonderful things. These things are primarily sports and non academic activities. We need to improve our standardized testing scores and improve academic standards. WE NEED CHANGE!! Let’s end the dysfunction and bullying at Mercer School! Vote for Christa Reinert and Jim Hannemann!

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  6. Is anyone paying attention to the PRAT tax issue that will be on Tuesday’s ballot. John Sendra wants us to believe that it’s a tax that will be paid mainly by tourists, who are actually up here a few days or weeks each year. That’s BS. It’s a tax every Mercer resident will be paying all year, every year on everything they purchase.

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  7. As the election draws near I look at the administration that is running Mercer school with the help of past and present School board members and just stare in disbelief. I watched Eric Torkelson parade around during the district annual meeting and say that not one penny of Fund 80 was spent on salaries when the DPI said there was over $140,000 dollars spent on salaries of school staff. Someone is lying and I don't think it's the Department of Public Instruction. Under Torkelson I've watched the school file restraining orders on Christa Reinert because someone wrote a letter about how bad people in the school were acting and Torkelson and other school board members stood up in court under oath and said Christa wrote the letter. It was proven that Christa didn't write it, but it was to late by then to stop it. Torkelson had the Iron County police chasing Christa because she dropped off 2 sandwiches at the school for our kids lunch and we had to call the sheriff who had to stop them from arresting Christa. During the past few months when Christa asks for public information that anyone should be able to get, Torkelson has the schools lawyer respond to the requests at the tax payers cost even though it is his job because he is the schools record keeper and it is his job to supply that information. I guess we should give him another $10,000 dollar bonus so he can do his job "so WELL"! Also, for all of Christa’s critic's that say she has been making numbers up to make things sound worse. All the numbers and information that she has said or has questioned has come directly from the school and she has the documentation to prove all of it.
    These are just a fraction of the things that Torkelson has done to Christa over the last 3 years, and now Karl, to stop them from regaining control of the school. I know it's hard to believe, but Torkelson actually works for the school board and is supposed to run the school by their directives. The school has an endemic problem Starting with Torkelson and the gullible school board members that follow his lead.
    The two hand picked people that are running against Christa and Jim Hanneman have both said in public that the school is fine under Torkelson. Well it is not. If you want the school to run in an open and honest way, and have students come out of the school that are ready for life's challenges than you need to vote for Christa and Jim. If you want the school to be in newspapers and radio stations for embarrassing reasons several times a year then vote for Torkeslon’s people, and probably get ready to give him another raise because $170,000 a year just won't be enough.

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  8. I heard that Bob Davis is talking about “the other candidates” meaning Reinert and Hanneman, suggesting voter fraud in Tuesday’s election. If anything like this really happened, he should look to his own “support” group as being the perpetrators. This is really a cheap shot and tells us something about his character. He must be desperate.

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    1. 2 comments were posted on this site suggesting this very thing. That is what he was talking about. The 2 comments were deleted a time later.

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