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

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The End of a Bad Era -- Well, Almost 


With the last two of the five minions of former Administrator Erik Torkelson now out of the picture, the Mercer School Board has a green light to forge ahead with reforms it started last June when Torkelson was placed on medical leave.

One remaining impediment was School Board member Micki Pierce-Holmstrom, a holdover from the old Torkelson clique, who, thankfully, decided not to seek re-election in the April 7 election. 

Another threat to cleaning up the Torkelson mess was the possible return of Deanna Pierpont to the School Board.  Pierpont was a school board member and at times board president during Torkelson’s eight-year reign of mismanagement and misspending.  She chose not to seek re-election in April 2019, but then attempted a comeback in this year’s election, with the promise that she would bring back Torkelson.  Mercer voters wisely rejected her comeback bid by giving her the fewest number of votes received by the five candidates.  

The other three of Torkelson lackeys exited the school board earlier.  (See MSF 4/13/20 Great News for Mercer)

The board now consists of Bob Davis, Jim Hannemann, Sue Loth, Jeff Nehring and Hank Joustra.  Loth and Nehring were appointed to fill two school board vacancies last spring and won re-election in this April 7 election.  Joustra is new to the board, beating Pierpont and Brian Baltz in the election.

One final act in removing the pall that hung over the school district for eight years involves formally terminating Torkelson.  The board has apparently been addressing this issue, at least judging from its closed meeting agendas in last several months which read: “To discuss administrator leave status, and to potentially take action regarding same”.  Terminating Torkelson is complicated because firing him while on medical leave could open the school district to legal action.

Soon after Torkelson was placed on medical leave, the new school board began   cleaning up the school’s finances, which involved restating how the school’s funds had been improperly used.  In part, the restatement of the finances was required by a settlement of a $185,465 claim by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that Torkelson had misused Community Services Fund 80.

Now the school board and the new administrator, Sheri Kopka, can devote their full attention to repairing the sadly neglected academic programs.  Under Torkelson the Mercer school descended to the very bottom of a list of the state’s 421 school districts with its Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s School Report Card score.  Mercer was the only school with a Report Card score of 50.4, “fails to meet expectations”.  Also, the Mercer School’s composite ACT score had been consistently well below both the state averages and the averages of all 20 northern Wisconsin school districts since Torkelson became administrator. 

With Torkelson’s five stooges out of the picture and the likelihood that he will never be allowed back in the school, the Mercer School, its students and parents and the community can hope for a bright, new future.

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. So much for the Torkelson stooges. What about the stooges’ stooges? The people like Brundage who spread lies about Christa Reinert and Jim Hanneman to try to keep them from being elected. What do we do about them?

  2. Not sure why anyone would listen to a clown like Brundage (Micah Magma on Facebook). The guy is just a blow hard. Be sensible,people.

  3. It’s on the agenda again for Monday night’s SB meeting: “discuss administrator leave status, and to potentially take action regarding same.” Will this be the meeting when the board finally terminates Torkelson?