School worker opens checkbook for district

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Thursday, March 17, 2011
— Times are tough for Janesville public schools.

The budget is short.

Layoffs loom.

Bryan Cox took note of the problem and decided to do something.

He wrote a check to the school district for $1,200.

Cox wrote a letter to go with the check. It says the Janesville School District has been a big part of his life. He attended Janesville schools from kindergarten through high school. A few years after graduation, he took a job as a custodian for the district.

Thirty-four years later, Cox is still working for the district. He's a maintenance worker at Marshall Middle School.

"Over those 34 years, I was able to own my own home, raise a family and make ends meet," Cox wrote. "I would like to thank the School District of Janesville for all you have given me."

Cox told the Gazette he has six grown children and 10 grandchildren.

He comes across as a gentle man who isn't comfortable answering questions from reporters but who lights up when asked about his grandchildren. At Marshall, he is known as someone who cares about students. Cox was named the district's support-staff person of the year last year.

"He is always happy to help in whatever way he can to maintain and create the best possible learning environment," according to his citation. "Unbalanced temperatures, ripped carpet areas or icy doorways—they are no match for Bryan. … There is no job he will not do to keep the campus safe."

Cox said he waited a week before he told his wife about the donation. Her eyes got wide when he told her the amount, he said, but she supported him.

Cox also is asking that more of his paycheck be deducted for his health insurance. He has paid the 3 percent of the premium, which is the rate for employees who join the district's wellness program. He said he will now pay 8 percent, which is the rate for those who don't join the program.

The increase over a year's time is $864.

Cox's union so far has declined to open its contract to make concessions, but Cox said this has nothing to do with the union.

"It's for the schools and for the children," he said.

Cox said he knows his contribution is tiny compared with the $13 million budget shortfall the district faces for the coming fiscal year. He likens it to a raindrop that joins other raindrops to form a puddle, then a stream, then a river.

"If those that could afford it, whether it's $1 or $10 or $100 dollars, this is for students and to keep our buildings up so we have a good school system here, so people will keep wanting to have their kids going here," he said.

Last updated: 4:44 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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