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

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Missing an Opportunity


The Mercer School Board appears to be missing out on a big opportunity, and that is by not letting the public know that it is conducting much of the school’s business in open and productive meetings. This was never allowed in the eight years during former Administrator Erik Torkelson’s reign.

But there is a simple remedy for letting the public know about the new enlightening way in which school business is being conducted.  That would be to resume video recording of the meetings and placing them on the school’s website.

The January 27 meeting of the School Board is a perfect example of why this needs to be done.   Many substantive issues were discussed in the two-hour long meeting (excluding an additional one and one-half hour closed session) with only about a dozen people in attendance.

Of course, more citizens should have enough interest in the education of the children and how their school tax dollars are being spent and attend the meetings.  But for those not inclined or unable to attend the meetings, the video recordings would be a good solution. 

Many Mercer citizens are skeptical that school affairs could ever be fully conducted in the open.  And they should be.  After all, when Torkelson ruled over the School Board the public was rarely allowed to know what was really happening – with his mismanagement and misspending.

But Torkelson is no longer in charge.  He is out on medical leave and the new School Board appears to be working on ways to make sure that he is not allowed back in the school.  Hence the closed sessions.

We have a new interim administrator, Sheri Kopka, and an almost all new School Board who are aggressively attacking the problems Torkelson created and setting the school on a positive path.  There is only one holdover board member who was part of the Torkelson/Pierpont clique, Micki Holmstrom, but she will be gone this April.  Pierpont, of course, is Deanna Pierpont, who was a major player in the school’s failing performance.  After not seeking reelection to the board last April, sadly enough, Pierpont is now seeking to be elected back on the board in this coming April’s election.  Hopefully, Mercer voters are wise enough to not vote her back in. 

The new School Board, with Bob Davis as president, is now discussing school affairs – finances, academic performance, futures plans, etc. --- in the open.  It has held closed sessions, and is legally required to do so, “to discuss administrator leave status, and to potentially take action regarding same.”

Until October 2017 School Board meetings, even though very little of substance was discussed in the open, were routinely video recorded and placed on the school’s website.  Then, Pierpont and Torkelson stopped the video recordings because the public was seeing and hearing too much of what was happening – or maybe we should say, too much of what was not happening.

So, the skeptics should give the new administrator and School Board a chance to demonstrate that they are working diligently to correct the many past problems and set a positive future course.  The ability to view meetings on the school’s website would go a long way in helping the public know this is happening.  


  1. If Davis and the school board are being as transparent as your blog says then why aren’t they recording the meetings and letting the people of Mercer see and hear what is going on?

  2. I was at the January meeting and I was amazed at how open and thorough the board was in discussing school issues. Keep it up.

  3. This again does not seem like a difficult thing to do. All the Board needs to do is to instruct the administrator to record the meetings and post online as they did in the past.

    But no, let's make mountains out of molehills. You certainly don't want to rush into a decision of this magnitude.

    And you wonder why nothing gets done at Mercer School?

  4. EXACTLY!! Davis made a claim to look into recording the meetings last summer, what's taking so long Davis? Oh let's see u haven't the capacity to make a real obvious decision, just record the meetings and post them already. There is no liability for the district if that's what "The attorney" is telling u. Do the school, board and tax payers a favor and repace the law firm Torkelson hired, this firm's rep is UNAWARE of Public School Documents that support schools, yet she's a "school attorney", those ATTORNEY FEES R ADDING UP WITH NO RESULTS!. Get a spine and do something already!!

  5. I don't live in this community, but I have spoken with some people there and of course read this blog.

    I have come to the conclusion that this school is fubar.

    1. WIKTIONARY Definition: F***ed up (or, bowdlerized, fouled up) beyond all recognition (or beyond all repair, or beyond all reason).

  6. Speaking of video, maybe the new Iron County DA should look at prosecuting Deanna Pierpont again for destruction of public records.

    The last time was a joke, but then again that seems to be the new norm.

  7. If the School Board really wants to dump Torkelson it should rid of the attorney Torkelson hired and get a "real" lawyer.

  8. I have written several comments that were critical of some of your past posts and you declined to publish those comments, but now I find it appropriate to offer commendations for the more reasonable tone and content of your recent posts.