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

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Torkelson’s Contract – Part 1


A recent exchange of comments in Mercer School Facts displayed that there is a good amount of confusion and lack of knowledge about the employment contract of Administrator Erik Torkelson.   

This interest has been prompted by the new Mercer School Board’s apparent attempt to terminate Torkelson, who has been on medical leave since last June.  Since then the board has delved into the school’s financial and academic records, apparently leading to the realization that Torkelson must not be allowed back in the school.  The board named as an interim administrator, Sheri Kopka, to help correct many of the wrongs created during Torkelson’s eight-year reign of mismanagement.  And they have been making progress.

But the troubling problem remains:  How do they terminate Torkelson?  Complicating the issue is that firing a person while on medical leave could expose the school district to a discrimination lawsuit because it might appear the person is being terminated due to a medical condition.

Of course, this is not the case with Torkelson, who should have been terminated years ago for mismanaging the education of the children and for unaccounted spending, including paying himself far more than the terms of his contract.

Torkelson was hired in 2011 by his then future mother-in-law and school board President Kelly Kohegyi, without any experience as an administrator.  He was given an overly generous annual salary of $98,000, plus about $30,000 in benefits.

Somehow, he managed to pay himself over $150,000 in most subsequent years without any explanation and without being questioned by a school board which he controlled.  Then, too, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction earlier ruled that Torkelson had misspent $185,465 of Fund 80 money in two years.  It did not investigate the other six years of Torkelson’s reign. 
The last of Torkelson’s minions. Micki Holmstrom, left the school board this last April, and one of his longtime supporters, former board President Deanna Pierpont, was rejected by Mercer voters in her bid to be elected back on the board, also this last April.  His mother-in-law, Kelly Kohegyi, and another minion, Denise Thompson, were voted off the board in earlier elections. 

So, what is in the contract?  Part 2 coming up.


IT IS HEREBY AGR.EED by and between the Board of Education of the School District of Mercer (Board or District) and Erik Torkelson, that the Board does hereby employ Erik Torkelson in the position as stated below. 

The School Board of the Mercer School District (hereinafter referred to as the Board) and Erik Torkelson agree to the following contract for the position of Superintendent. This contract is for an automatic and continuous term, beginning on July 1, 2011, and ending two (2) years from the date the school board votes to stop the contract from continuing on such automatic and continuous basis. For purposed of salary and benefits increases, each July 1st is designated as the anniversary date of the contract. 

Mr. Torkelson will assume the position of District Superintendent beginning July 1, 2011 provided Mr, Torkelson has obtained appropriate licensure and successfully carried out his job duties and responsibilities. This contract shall cover twelve (12) months/260 days per year under a schedule approved by the School District of Mercer. 


  1. Why was he allowed to preside over a graduation ceremony while on medical leave? How disabled is he? Does he have short term and long term disability coverage? We'd rather have the school shut down and pay more in taxes then continue supporting someone that only knows how to play the system. I believe the majority of us work too hard for our incomes to be wasted on Torkelson.

    1. who allowed this?
      the BOARD?
      the acting admin/supt?
      How foolish everyone looks.
      We have a soft board.
      Sad, thought they would have more stones.

  2. already inside a 30 notice.... so the board has screwed up again.
    It is costing us either way.
    do the deed. be done with it
    He is not doing the job now,
    allow him benefits without salary if you must.
    do not allow him to hold the school hostage any longer.

  3. I will say it one more time. He wrote a contract all in his favor and Kelly Kohegyi and Deanna Pierpont ratified it. More money down the drain. He has outwitted everyone. The school board has had plenty of time to fix it, just based on the school rating and mismanagement of funds. Bob Davis is lifelong friends with the Kohegyi’s. Did you really think he was the Savior? How many years of embarassment, how many promised of next election things will be different. More time, more money wasted. Tork is laughing now. He handed out diplomas and Kohegyi flipped tassles at gravel pit graduation. Close the place down

    1. Save Our StudenteJune 5, 2020 at 9:09 AM

      He didn't outwit everyone. Just a few fools. A few years back someone ran for the school board telling of all his misdeeds. A few people listened, but more listened to the lies spewed by the Torkelson followers.

      This scenario sounds familiar doesn't it?

  4. It was a mock graduation by invite at a private property. Not school sanctioned and real diplomas were not given out. It would be interesting to see where in the country the majority of the comments are coming from on this blog. I am sure MSF can get the data on this for us.

    1. This is a factually incorrect statement, they were indeed the real diplomas that we’re handed out, every graduate and their family’s participated, and about 60% of the school staff were in attendance. I don’t know how much more school sanctioned you want then that.

    2. If true, who gave deposed administrator Torkelson and his stooges the real diplomas? Actually, four teachers attended and they should be fired.

    3. No clue who gave Tork the real diplomas but he had them. More than four teachers were there, and even town board members, county board members, and one school board member was there. Who is going to answer for this charade?

    4. That board member should immediately be removed from the board.

    5. Who are these board members? Will you give us their names so we know who not to support anymore?

    6. I could care less who the town and county board members are that were there, we need to know who this school board member was!

  5. Fire him then hire an attorney to fight his claim that it was due to medical condition. It would be cheaper than continuing to pay him.

  6. Is torkie still on the educational foundation board? WHY?
    There are those who refuse to attend functions if he is there.
    We do not want him involved with funds or education.

  7. The current school board has now wasted over a year. The first thing they should have done was give Torkelson his 2 year notice that his contract will no longer be automatically renewed. This was the bare minimum. They should then hire a forensic account to find out where all the money has gone.

    It is already established Torkelson misspent Fund 80 money and he paid himself more than his contract allowed. Additionally he was in charge when the testing scandal happened. These are very serious issues. If these things do not constitute not performing his duties, what does? Where was the business manager when all this was happening? Was she complicit in this? She sure didn't speak up about it.

    The talk about negotiating with him is absurd. It is mind boggling that this board can't see this.

    With so many issues at this school, the prudent thing to do is to close it.

    It is what is best for the students.

  8. One has to wonder. Boltz and Thompson as the school's business managers must know where every dime went, so do they remain silent?

  9. Save Our StudentsJune 10, 2020 at 9:46 AM

    And yet Torkelson has the gall to call education at Mercer the "Gold Standard." Could the bar get any lower?