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, July 1, 2020

Good for a Laugh

The loud  cheering that was heard coming from many Mercer homes when the announcement was made at the June 22 School Board Zoom meeting that former Administrator Erik Torkelson had resigned was almost drowned out by the laughter when the contents of his resignation letter was read.

“I am PROUD of all we have accomplished,” read the laughable part of Torkelson’s letter.

Does this mean that he is proud of the Mercer School’s abysmal academic records?  Under his leadership the school was at or very near the bottom of the 421 Wisconsin school districts with its Department of Public Instruction’s School Report Card scores.   Mercer was the only school in the state for the 2018-19 school year with a report card score of 66.8, “meets no expectations”, and for the previous two years its scores “met few expectations”.  

Or is he proud the school’s ACT composite scores, which after he became administrator in 2011 were consistently well below the state’s averages of about 20 to 21?  Mercer’s composite ACT score was a miserable 16.6 for 2016-17 and 18.4 and 17 for the next two years.   

Could he be proud of the DPI investigation into teacher test cheating which resulted in two Mercer teachers surrendering their licenses?

And what about the DPI investigation into his misuse of $185,465 of Community Services Fund 80, which cost the district about $125,000, including legal fees, to settle?  That investigation was for just two years and did not involve the other years of Torkelson’s reign when huge amounts of Fund 80 money was spent on dodgy services. 

Could he be proud of the nationwide notoriety Mercer received when a teacher and school board member showed the sexually explicit movie Fifty Shades of Grey to young Mercer schoolgirls?  The print, broadcast and social media were saturated with telling how the decadent incident unfolded.

Perhaps Torkelson is proud of the Iron County Circuit Court verdict in which the judge ruled that he pay $5,340 in penalties, attorney fees and court costs for violating the law by not producing a public record, which was part of the faked hacking scheme. 

Instead of saying he was “proud” of what was accomplished, Torkelson should have apologized for failing the students, parents, staff and Mercer community.


  1. That sounds like a list of all the things Christa was trying to bring to the attention of all the parents of the students and the Mercer taxpayers. Good thing Kelly, Diana, Denise, and Micki all helped Torkelson get what ever he wanted at the cost of the students and the taxpayers.

  2. So what did it cost for the board to get him to resign?