TORKELSON COMP. $146,359
Contract $98,000; Benefits $30,000
Wis. DPI Supt. comp. $121,307
Cost per student Mercer $20,146,
Wis. $12,942, Nation $10,667
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 422 Wis. schools





Thursday, July 18, 2019


School Board’s Selection
SHERI KOPKA PICKED AS TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATOR

Sheri Kopka, science teacher at the Mercer School, was selected Tuesday to fill in as administrator for the hospitalized Erik Torkelson. 

Although no official announcement has been made, it is generally known that Torkelson had a stroke resulting in partial paralysis.  The three-member Board accepted a request for a medical leave for Torkelson for an undetermined period.

It then agreed to enter into a contract with Kopka to fill the district administrator vacancy on an interim and probationary basis for a six-month term or subject to the return of Torkelson. 

The Board agreed to appoint Kopka to the temporary position in an hour-long closed session. It was not disclosed if anyone else had shown an interest or if the Board had sought applicants.

Kopka received a provisional license as an administrator from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on July 1, 2017.  She was licensed as a teacher on July 1, 2009, and has been Mercer’s 7-12 grades science teacher.  Her new position as administrator raises the question of who will teach science?

Kopka inherits a list of school problems.  Possibly most problematic is that the DPI has been investigating the Mercer School for “test administration and scoring.” The DPI confirmed on June 14 that “the matter is currently under investigation”.  It began the investigation over a year ago and has since interviewed former and current Mercer teachers and students.

In its June 14 announcement the DPI also said: “During the investigation DPI ‘shall keep confidential all information pertaining to the investigation except the fact that an investigation is being conducted and the date of the (license) revocation hearing’  (Wis. Stat 115.31 (6)(b)”.

Another problem Kopka faces is trying to improve the poor academic results which placed Mercer in very last place of the state’s 422 school districts rated by the DPI with its annual School Report Card scores.  It has also been well below the state and national averages with its ACT composite scores.

Preparing a 2018-19 School District budget will be another one of Kopka’s challenges. 
 


 

 

18 comments:

  1. Did the three board members even take the time to look elsewhere? Sounds like 3 people who know very little about how a school should operate, doing as little as they could.

    So let's get this straight, the school is being investigated for testing improprieties? In my opinion that would necessitate someone from outside the building being selected as interim administrator.

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  2. But who is going to teach the 7-12 science classes?

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    1. And this is why the easy way for the board, was not the best way. It would probably be easier to find a temporary administrator than a science teacher.

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    2. Does it really matter who teaches it? The teacher responsible for the poor science instruction for the past ten years, resulting in significantly below average ACT and Forward exam scores is now your District Administrator. I would assume they will hire the sub teacher they always do to fill in. I sure hope Ms. Kopka is not in some way implicated in the test cheating or fund misuse scandals the school is already embroiled in.

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    3. Kopka was/is an avid Torkelson follower. Enough said.

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  3. We hope Kopka is a better administrator than a science teacher. In 2017-18 ACT testing 81.8% were not proficient in science – 87.5% in 2026-17and 2015-16.

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  4. “Independent reporting is a foundation stone of our democracy. America's founders understood that if leaders could control the information the people received, they could control the people.” (From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.) Could the newspaper have been thinking about Micah Magma and the Committee for Positive Action as trying to “control the information the people received” when it made this statement?

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  5. If you ever really looked at the high school's curriculum or lack there of, you would understand why the test scores are so low. Torkelson claimed it is project based. Yep, his projects. There is no continuity from year to year for the students education. Totally random.

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  6. Could we be looking at this all wrong? Do we really think that any teacher or administrator would want to take the job(s) after they investigated what Torkelson and his school board have done to the district?

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  7. The students choose the curriculum they want and the teachers create a schedule around their requests. Kopka has been working side by side with the administrator for years. The transition will be seamless.

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    1. Really? Should the students be choosing the curriculum?

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    2. It is crystal clear now why there is no continuity. How is a student able to determine what knowledge is needed to go on in life?

      No wonder the school is such a mess. And working side by side with someone that is ill equipped to do the job? I'm not psychic but I predict the problems will just continue at this so called school.

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  8. Open letter to Ms Kopka; Dear Sheri, Thank you for accepting the appointment of District Administrator. You have the unique opportunity to lead Mercer School to a more productive future. We all realize that the past Administrator’s dictatorial style of leadership was not effective. The removal of The Teachers Union guaranteed that school teachers and staff were forced to comply with Mr T’s wishes or face possible termination. The school finances are nearly depleted, due to extravagant and illegal spending. You need to literally wipe the slate clean and start by being honest with the school board and tax payers. All records need to be accessible to the school board and DPI so we may rebuild a broken system. A vote should be taken among teachers and staff to see if they want representation by the teachers union. Please do not feel pressured by Mr T., the school board has entrusted the future of Mercer School to you! If you feel you cannot operate with the many pressures said Job would produce, please resign now so we may find someone with integrity and honesty! We are sick of the same old song and dance!

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    1. But the School Board has been part of the problem.

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    2. Anyone who understands management should know that if you are trying to change the culture of an organization, you do not select an internal person. You select an external person with those qualities you wish to have have as part of the new culture,

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  9. Best advice if you have school age students is to exercise your school choice and send them elsewhere.

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  10. I would definitely look into surrounding schools for my child`s education! things will not get better if they hire from within!!!!

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  11. Easy to be anonymous and critical. And I didn't know so many education experts were named anonymous. And a parting thought - just because you attended a school doesn't mean you understand how to run a school. Build support and solutions, together, because the kids deserve it!

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