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 421 Wis. schools

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


What happens to an organization when its work force is down more than 10%?  Is it less productive, less efficient?

This could be the situation the Mercer School will face at the start of the school year.

We already know that it is minus a science teacher as a result of Sheri Kopka being named temporary Administrator.  Mercer School has advertised the position, but there is this question:  Why would anyone take the job knowing that Kopka must return to her classroom teaching position if Administrator Erik Torkelson recovers from his stroke?  Her new $90,000 contract says she will revert back to teaching if Torkelson recovers within her one-year contract’s term.

But the big question is what will the School Board do about the two teachers who are under investigation in the Mercer’s School’s test administration and scoring scandal?  The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has confirmed the investigation, and its website lists under one of the teacher’s names “License Status: Under Investigation.”

It is likely that the DPI could conduct license revocations hearings in the near future.

Surely the Mercer School Board would temporarily withhold renewal of the two teachers’ contracts until the matter is fully resolved.  Of course, the School Board can appoint substitute teachers.  But that is not the same as having regular teachers in place, particularly at the start of a new school year.

If this isn’t enough of a problem for the new School Board (four of the five members are new), it must confront the problem of coming up with a realistic budget before October’s public budget hearing and annual meeting.  In the past, the School Board had very little to do with developing the budget and, in most years, rarely saw it until the very last moment.

Now the Board’s challenge is to eliminate some of the frills and waste and focus on providing the resources for a quality education for all students.  This might require eliminating the perks received by the handful of community residents who became part of a patronage system.

Now the BIG, BIG question:  Is the new School Board up to the task?


  1. The DPI should do more than just revoke their license. They should lose their pension and criminal charges should be filed. No more of this slap on the wrist treatment. They are criminals and should be treated as such.

    1. In Atlanta 8 teachers and the superintendent went to prison for the same thing.

  2. I read the Globe article about the Mercer School Board. Committees? Comprised of Torkelson's inner circle, gee what do you think they would come up with?

    Nehring is the Mercer Town Crier. Kopka is a Torkelson minion.

    As far as a board working together, that's what the last board did. "All in it for Mercer School" and that yielded cheating on state tests, the great China connection, abusing Fund 80 like the Paw Shop where no students work, overpaying themselves, and generally robbing the community blind.

    Seems to me all that has happened is rotating the tires on the 18 wheeler.

  3. I am curious. Last September Torkelson bragged about the school enrollment. He was talking about all of the new students that where signing up for the school year. Does anyone know what was the number of students that signed up last year and what was the number of students that finished the school year?

    Just curious.


    1. Now, this is one of the best comments/questions that MSF has allowed to be posted in a great long time. Now, any idea on the answer?

  4. Based upon what I have seen and read about Mercer School the best thing that could happen for the students and taxpayers is for this school to consolidate with a larger district.

    After all, wouldn't it provide many more opportunities for the students?

    1. Anonymous on August 17, 2019 at 8:25 AM Mercer School is not about the students. It is about it being a cash cow for a few Mercer families. They are squeezing out every last dollar they can for themselves. At taxpayer and student expense of course.

    2. I think you are right. Torkelson hires Tricia Thompson as business manager and then they hire back Lori Boltz to teach her how to do the job??? And Boltz is still there. Both are being overpaid.

      Thompson lacks the necessary skill to do the job and Boltz is duplication for the position.

      And talk about inflated salaries. Just check what they are being paid. It is after all public information. Not that Torkelson or the Mercer School Board want you to know.