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, February 14, 2020

A First


After eight years of almost nothing but bad news coming out of the Mercer School – pathetic ACT and School Report Card scores, the misuse of school funds, teachers surrendering their licenses in a test cheating investigation, and more – finally comes some more good news.

Good news began to surface last June after former Administrator Erik Torkelson went on medical leave and a new administrator and an almost entirely new school board took charge.  Among the corrective actions was the restating of the school district’s financials to correct the misspending of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

And the new administrator, Sheri Kopka, has implemented some long-overdue positive actions, including setting up a Mercer School Strategic Planning Committee.  The idea is not new.  It was proposed before by an early candidate for the school board, Paul Juske, and again suggested by former school board members Christa Reinert and Karl Anderson.

But Torkelson would have no part of it.  He did not even allow school board members, which he controlled, to offer suggestions. The idea of having community members becoming involved in school issues was repugnant to him.

What would seem to be in defiance to Torkelson’s autocratic rule, Kopka wrote in a letter to Mercer Community Members: “It is important that we hear from as many stakeholders in our community as possible and we sincerely appreciate your engagement and more importantly respect your candor as we move through this process…Every person’s voice and participation is important in developing our priorities and making progress on our goals and objectives.”

The Strategic Planning Committee has held four sessions to date.  It has been working on the school’s mission.  As a part of its work, the committee will follow through with “vision, values and strategic priorities”.


  1. I find it ironic that Ms Kopka is doing this. After all, she has been around since Torkelson has been at Mercer School and has been witness to what he has done to the school, the students, and the community. So she knew and did nothing about it. In fact she was one of his chosen followers.

    So some people will say, stop being so negative. I will when I see some real meaningful change to the the Mercer School culture.

    Right now I am just being realistic.

    1. I agree. Until I see money recovered, charges filed, ACT scores and state rankings increase, it's just more of the same.

  2. Here is my input now. Consolidate Mercer School with a another nearby district. Give the students more opportunities and a broader education than what they could ever receive in Mercer.

  3. Any news if we are going to get some type of debate or question and answer forum before the April election? Would be nice to be able to quiz the candidates.

  4. All of the slogans, vision and mission statements are absolutely meaningless. Since Torkelson has been at Mercer, he had the Wisconsin school of distinction, the gold standard, the tiger way and we're all in it together.

    What has that done for the school? They are ranked at the bottom of all schools in Wisconsin and the average ACT score is abysmal. Need any more proof?

    Enough with the gimmicks, they just don't work. You need a consistent, comprehensive curriculum. Not the flavor of the day that changes every year.