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

Friday, November 22, 2019

More Bad News

The Mercer School District is again making news around the state and, as before, it is not good news.

This time it involves Mercer’s Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 2018-19 School Report Card score. 

The statewide-circulated Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a major news story singled out and prominently mentioned the Mercer School District for its last place School Report Card position of the state’s 421 school districts.  The Journal Sentinel had this to say about Mercer’s score:

“Only one district failed to meet expectations this year.  Mercer School District, a tiny K-12 school in Iron County that has confronted one controversy after another ( in recent years including a finding by DPI that it had misused taxpayer funds.”

The State Journal in Madison and other news media around the state, including the Iron County Miner, carried similar stories which mentioned the Mercer School District’s abysmal report card score. 

The felony charges against five school board members mentioned by the Journal Sentinel were mysteriously dismissed by Judge Patrick Madden, since deceased, in an initial appearance at which motions for dismissal are never ruled upon.  (See MSF 5/1/19 Friends in High Places)

And the newspaper’s reference to the DPI’s finding that the School District had misused taxpayer funds involved a penalty of $185,465 for misusing 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.

What the Journal Sentinel failed to mention in referring to “one controversy after another” was the sensational nationwide news coverage Mercer received when young Mercer schoolgirls were shown the sexually explicit movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”.  The movie was rented by a teacher and shown to the girls by a school board member.

Another “controversy” not mentioned by the Journal Sentinel involved the DPI test cheating investigation which resulted in two Mercer teachers surrendering their licenses.

All of this makes one wonder if some good news will ever come out of the Mercer School District.


  1. How can anyone allow their children to be subjected to this malignant environment?

  2. Any news or info on the school fight last week that teachers had to intervene? It was in a daily globe article reporting on the town board meeting. It was brought up by the Town Chairman at the Town Hall meeting11/21/19.

    1. Since when is this the town chairman's business?? More importantly,why wasn't the iron county sheriff's dept called.

  3. A little curious as to why this is such a big deal...every school in America deals with students fighting on a daily basis. This happens once in a decade at Mercer and we have to make it everyone’s business?

    1. When Torkelson was there, according to him, things like this never happened. Mostly because he hid them.

    2. No Torkelson fan, but they should be-student records are confidential and should not be a matter of public record or a matter of public opinion.

    3. Anonymous November 24, 2019 at 7:38 PM Huh? Average State test scores are available online. No individual student is identified.

      We could do like Torkelson and hide everything which resulted in the cheating.

    4. The test scores are one thing, student discipline is another

  4. I am curious what folks see as the desired end game here? Clearly there is concern about the administer currently on leave, the culture of the school has to be horrible for the kids because they know exactly what is going on and how it affects their education. Do folks think this can be cleaned up with the current working parts or is something radical needed? I would suggest here is strong commonality in the education of K-6 while grades 7 and 8 are setting a foundation for high school. The high school experience can be very broad if the school system has the resources to provide meaningful options. Mercer schools justifies its existence based on a taxation argument. There is more to it than that though. A school helps greatly with community identity, job creation and unity. Is there a middle ground that serves the community, the taxpayers and most importantly the kids? Something like having a K-6 or K - 8 and then transitioning the students to a larger system. There is a fair amount of revenue involved here and I bet other systems would be open to a positive negotiation.

  5. Let’s get back to the point of this blog—test scores and academic performance. The banner celebrating Mercer’s award as a “School of Distinction” has come down. That’s probably appropriate. A new banner celebrating the girls’ volleyball team has gone up; in front of the Chamber of Commerce office. That’s appropriate, too.

    But, what about our academic stars? Do we have any? Can’t we celebrate them, too? A couple of years ago a student team from Mercer placed in a statewide robotics competition. One of the team members was the child of a school board member. Did you know that? Have you seen any banners? What happened to the trophy?

    Athletic prowess is the result of dedication and hard work and should be rewarded. So, too, should academic achievement. Let us, the school and the community, begin to reward and recognize the Mercer scholars and then, maybe, we’ll start to see some improvement in our “report card”.

    1. They have to stop shooting from the hip. Until there is a well planned continuous curriculum that does not vary from year to year, that is followed by the staff, this is very unlikely to happen. Enough of the special projects, until they can master the basics.