By Lisa Capobianco
After serving as the Director of Operations for 20 years in the Southington school district, Fred Cox has decided to retire at the end of the school year.
During a recent Board of Education meeting, Southington Supt. of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi announced the retirement of Cox, catching the Director of Operations off guard with a letter of appreciation.
“Your loyalty to the district and to my office has been simply incredible,” Dr. Erardi read aloud, recognizing Cox for number of building projects he has contributed to over the years. “You have been a strong consistent decision maker to all aspects of our operations and transportation.”
Cox formerly served as an industrial arts teacher at DePaolo Junior High School (which is now called DePaolo Middle School) for 11 years, right after college. After his teaching experience, Cox decided to work for a manufacturing firm, Fafnir Bearing Co. before returning to the school district.
Calling teaching a “great experience,” Cox said he decided to take on a different role to “broaden his horizons,” adding that his second job provided him the tools he needed to take on his current role of director of operations.
“The last 20 years I’ve really enjoyed my position here on the Board of Education not only with this board but previous boards and certainly with the recent leadership with Dr. Erardi,” Cox replied at the meeting.
Becoming the Director of Operations in 1994, Cox has played a number of roles in the school district, overseeing the maintenance of buildings and student transportation as he streamlined all the bus routes and helped improved the safety of all the bus stops. He has also played a role in assuring consistency in cleaning and building operations at each educational facility and took direct responsibility of the completion and monitoring of all building and construction related grants. Besides safety and maintenance, Cox has also served on the Energy Committee, finding ways to bring energy cost savings to the district.
Throughout his position, Cox has served as the school district’s leader in various construction projects. He first oversaw the construction of five elementary school renovation projects, in which the first three were completed at Thalberg, Strong and Hatton Schools, followed by Plantsville Elementary School and the construction of the new South End School.
“Those [projects] would be something I’m very proud of,” said Cox, adding that he feels proud of the accomplishments he helped achieved in the elementary school renovations projects, as he brought them up to new standards.
Cox also oversaw the construction of the new vocational-agriculture building at Southington High School and the new municipal center, which now houses the Board of Education and town offices and was formerly the North Center School. In 2012, Cox took on another role in school construction, serving on the Middle School Building Committee for the renovations of both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools, which are underway.
Town Councilor Chris Palmieri, who has served on the Middle School Building Committee, said he will miss Cox, adding that that his experience in construction projects has served as an asset to the project.
“His knowledge is invaluable,” said Palmieri, adding that Cox has overseen the project from the beginning and serves as a valuable contributor to every meeting. “His experience has helped make the process smoother.”
Upon his retirement, Cox said he plans to travel with his wife, who also plans to retire at the end of the school year. The couple plans to visit Maine, where they have a condominium, and to travel to other states. His last day is June 27.
By Lisa Capobianco