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 15, 2020

Mercer School Board Acts

The Mercer School District has a new administrator – Sheri Lynn Kopka.  She was given the position at a July 13 special Mercer School Board meeting.

Kopka was named interim administrator shortly after former administrator Erik Torkelson was placed on medical leave in June 2019.  Torkelson remained on medical leave until this last June 22 when he resigned “for purposes of retirement”.  He probably would have been fired anyway because the new board appeared to be looking for ways to terminate him.

Kopka’s contract will run through June 30, 2022, with an annual salary of $90,000 plus benefits.

Since taking over in 2019, Ms. Kopka has had the difficult task working with the new school board to clean up the administrative and misspending mess left behind by Torkelson.  Also, she had the difficult responsibility of planning and implementing a virtual educational program for Mercer’s 145 students after the school closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The four school board members at the July 13 meeting were unanimous in their praise for the job Kopka has been doing.   Board President Bob Davis and board member Jim Hannemann noted that the board had looked at potential candidates when Torkelson was placed on medical leave and that board was fortunate to find someone (Kopka) well qualified within the district.

Board member Sue Loth described Kopka as “an extremely qualified, hardworking, nose-to-the-ground type of person”.  “We are very lucky to have her,” Loth said.  Board member Jeff Nehring added, “Her performance has been good.”

Before being named interim administrator Kopka was the school’s science teacher.  When given the interim position she already had a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction license as an administrator.   

Kopka’s predecessor Torkelson was hired in July 2011, with no experience as an administrator and at a starting salary of $98,000 plus about $30,000 in benefits, by his then future mother-in-law and School Board President Kelly Kohegyi and her cronies, Deanna Pierpont, and Denise Thompson.  As the school’s academic performance plummeted to the very bottom position of the state’s 422 school districts, his minions raised his pay to $113,500.   Nevertheless, Torkelson somehow managed to pay himself more than $150,000 in most years.

Kopka has a tough job ahead of her, but the school cannot go anywhere by up.


  1. MSF appropriately places the blame for school’s failure on Torkelson. But his corrupt school board – Pierpont, Kohegyi, Thompson and Pierce – must share equally in the blame. They sat back knowing what was going on and allowed it to happen. Shame on them.

    1. You got that right. We pretty much know what he got out of it but what was their take.

  2. Can not wait to find out the total cost this last year for lawyers fee in trying to get rid of Torkelson heard they have already spent in the 6 figures this last year. They also gave him a pretty good buy out plus benefits, can not wait to see what they new tax bill will be since they are not transparent in everything they have doing. Wow!!!

    1. If you know the buy out please share

  3. Best of luck to Sheri and the new school board!