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, May 23, 2019

The School Board Conundrum
2 - 1 -? - ?
The new Mercer School Board could face its first big challenge at its May 28 meeting: it may need to select a Board member to fill a vacant seat.
Going into the May 28 meeting, the Board consists of two members who want to repair the failed administration, one member who supports it, a new member whose allegiance is yet to be determined and the questionable unfilled spot.
The challenge at the meeting is whether to pick a person free of ties to the failed school administration and who will truly represent the best interests of the students and community or select another minion of Administrator Erik Torkelson.
There appears to be some controversy about the new Board member selection process.  At the April School Board meeting it was agreed that the procedure would be discussed at the May meeting.  Then, without the required Board approval, an ad appeared in the Iron County Miner soliciting applications for the vacant Board position by May 10 and stating that a selection would be made at the May 28 meeting.  Who created the ad and placed it in the Miner appears to be a mystery.
Mercer voters have been slowly making progress toward ridding themselves of a School Board which totally ignored unacceptable academic results and gross mismanagement and misspending.   
Until a few years ago, Torkelson controlled all five Board members. That control has eroded to where it appears that he now totally controls only one Board member, Micki Pierce-Holmstrom, owner of Century 21 Pierce Realty.  Filling the open Board seat with a person independent of Torkelson can be a deciding factor in whether the Board can function in the best interests of the students and the community or in the best interest of Torkelson.
Board members Karl Anderson and Jim Hannemann represent the best interests of the students and the community.  Newly elected Board member Bob Davis can be important in swinging the balance of power away from Torkelson and allow the Board to assume its rightful responsibility of managing school affairs. But will he? 
Supporters of Torkelson have been circulating petitions for one of his minions to influence the selection of the new School Board member.  The petitioning carries no weight and, humorously, looks like the amateurish selection of a prom queen.

If the selecting of an appointed Board member proceeds on May 28, Davis has to realize that the person selected must be totally independent of Torkelson and his followers. That person must be someone who possesses the determination and qualities capable of helping restore successful academic results and the honest and transparent management of school affairs.


  1. Do we know yet who has applied for the position?

  2. Selecting a new board member is a serious matter and should not be a popularity contest which is what the Torkelson group is trying to make it. MSF is absolutely correct in that the person selected should have NO ties to the administrator. The person who is the subject of the petitioning has repeatedly supported him. Not a good choice.

  3. There should be no controversy. DPI guidelines clearly state how a empty seat on the board is to be filled. The board has the obligation to fill the seat. It appears that someone who placed the ad in the Miner wants to take that right from the board. Look it up on the DPI website.