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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A New Day for Mercer?

Is a nine-year reign of mismanagement and misspending at the Mercer School about to come to an end?

The agenda for the Monday night Mercer School Board meeting might suggest that promising prospect.  In a closed session, the School Board will: “confer with legal counsel to consider employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee…specifically, to discuss administrator (Erik Torkelson) leave status and to potentially take action regarding same.”

Torkelson has been on a medical leave since mid-June when he experienced a stroke.  Since then, his record of failure has continued to build with the most recent announcement of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction School Report Card scores.  The Mercer School District scored a humiliating 50.4 – fails to meet expectations – which placed it alone at the very bottom of the state’s 421 school districts.  (See MSF 9/12/19 Mercer’s New Report Card Score)

But there is a long list of reasons why Torkelson should not be retained: a DPI test cheating investigation resulting in two teachers surrendering their licenses; a DPI charge that he misused $185,465 of Community Services Fund 80 money, which was settled by the school district for a costly $124,515, plus about another $37,000 in legal expenses; paying himself every year far in excess of contractual amounts; and the list goes on and on.

The School Board has the legitimate and legal means for terminating Torkelson.  His contract requires that he “perform at a professional level of competence the services, duties and obligations required by the laws of the State of Wisconsin.” 

The new school board, headed by Bob Davis as president and with Sheri Kopka as interim administrator, has shown promise in trying to restore honesty and transparency and in cleaning up Torkelson’s mess.   Let’s hope they take the vital step of saying “goodbye” to Torkelson at tomorrow night’s School Board meeting. 

Its purpose is to report news and information – facts – about Mercer School Board and Administration issues and overall school academic performance.  It is intended to keep Mercer citizens aware of the management and inner workings of the school.  It is not a school newspaper; therefore, it will not report school sports events or individual student or teacher activities/accomplishments.  MSF pledges that all news reports will be thoroughly researched and supported by school, state and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction documentation.


  1. Let's hope this is the case.

  2. Well Mercer school made the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and it wasn't for: 1) 50 shades Kohegyi/schoenoman, or 2) smearing a tax payer running for board or 3) a misuse of Fund 80 exceeding $185,000 4) 5 board members being charged with 6 felony charges! NOPE it was for reaching a new low, the lowest scoring report card in the state.

    In fact "Mercer School District in Northern Wisconsin was the only district to be rated one star" which was reported in The Wisconsin State Journal on Nov 12. The ONLY one with ONE STAR!! Way to go, two top papers in the state!
    And the WI SJ said DPI Pinnosault and a vendor discussed the use of data from 3 tests (8th grade Forward, 10th grade Aspire ACT and 11th grade ACT) in Report Cards. They decided it would b appropriate to measure High School growth using some of this data, so it stated the ACT Aspire is included for the first time.

    Well that's more bad news for Mercer as the ACT and Aspire scores have been way below state average. Maybe the school will achieve 1/2 a star. Wake up parents, your kids r not honor roll students when compared with the entire state of WI. Stand up and demand more, your kids r more important than all your adult buddies at the school.

  3. I heard they took no action. But I suspect they are working on a way of getting rid of him.

  4. Hopefully, they are working on getting Torky relieved of his contract and then work on the staff members like spring break Betty and replacing such individuals with staff members of a solid moral compass. It will happen eventually, I know.