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

Friday, September 25, 2020

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Mercer School Board Meetings


If you think the Mercer School Board meetings are too long with too much discussion, think back a few years when most of the school’s business was conducted in secret and the public had no chance of knowing how their tax dollars were being misspent.


Back then school board meetings would usually last no more than 20 to 30 minutes, and motions were passed with absolutely no discussion.  As an example of the contrast, last night’s meeting ran two hours and 20 minutes.  Issues important to the management of the school and the education of Mercer’s children are now discussed in the open and in detail.  (Zoom into a meeting and learn for yourself.)


At Monday night’s meeting the School Board and Administrator Sheri Kopka took up such weighty issues as the Mercer School’s reopening plan and the status of fall sports.  Kopka also submitted a preliminary budget and said that the school district expects to have a balanced budget for 2020-21 if state funding remains normal.


She said that it was originally thought that the district would have to dip into the fund balance last year by as much as $300,000 but that it only had to use $100,000.  This year-end fund balance should be $400,000, she added. 


Under the former administration no one, including even some school board members, would normally see the budget until the school district’s annual meeting in late October when it was up for final approval.


Kopka outlined school district’s detail plan for resuming classes this fall and the board approved the plan.  It covered everything from classroom and virtual learning, busing, student lunches, visitors, treatment of ill children, and the teaching of hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.  The children and parents will be given the option of returning to a normal five-day school week with the practice of social distancing and the option to wearing face coverings, which will be encouraged.  (Kopka may want to rethink the optional wearing of face masks since the number of Covid-19 cases in Iron County is rapidly rising.) They may also choose to attend classes by virtual study on-line at home.  Gatherings such as fund raisers will not occur.      


School Board President Bob Davis said that it will be “nice to get some normalcy.”   The school’s reopening plan will be widely circulated to the parents and community residents, Davis added.


The fall football, volleyball and cross county sports programs were discussed in detail with no final decision being made.  It was left up to Kopka to work out a plan with Athletic Director Adam Miller and recommend it to the school board for approval or disapproval at its next regular meeting on August 24.


Although the board had discussed the fall sports program at its last two meetings, it was decided Monday night that those discussions probably should not have occurred because it is the district administrator’s responsibility to work out a plan with her staff and submit her recommendations to the board.


Athletic Director Adam Miller and Coach Matt Schoeneman went into detail at Monday night’s meeting and presented a number of scenarios for resuming fall sports.  They reported on what other school districts are doing and the dates for the possible startup of the football, volleyball, and cross-country programs. 


Davis said that sports is high on his priority list but that the school needs to find a balance which allows for playing sports while focusing on the academic side.  He said that he would “feel very badly it we had to shut down the school if something happened” on the sports side.


Meetings under Davis and the present school board are in direct contrast to the years when Deanna Pierpont and Kelly Kohegyi presided over puppet boards.  Today community input is encouraged.  Back then, if anyone dared to ask a question, they were often ridiculed or embarrassed.  Or they you might even be removed from the meeting by a deputy sheriff, as Kohegyi once ordered.


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