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As school year begins, new Cumberland County superintendent emphasizes safety, graduation rate

July 24, 2018

At Reid Ross Classical Middle/High School, Principal John McMillan, left, has already put some security measures in place.

He has officially been on the job less than a month, but Cumberland County’s new superintendent of schools isn’t wasting any time getting to know his students and teachers.

Dr. Marvin Connelly was making the rounds Monday as year-round schools opened for the new school year. He started out early with a ride on the school bus with students to E.E. Miller Elementary School.

He wanted to emphasize two priorities: Cumberland County schools are going to be safe, and he wants students actively engaged in their education.

Connelly doesn’t worry that heightened security measures that make it tough for intruders also make it harder for parents to get in.

“It’s a small price to pay to have to pause a little bit to check in to ensure the safety and security of our students,” he said.

At Reid Ross Classical Middle/High School, Principal John McMillan has already put some security measures in place.

“We make sure our doors are locked. We also conduct our monthly fire drills as well as our code red lockdown drills,” McMillan said.

School leaders say having a safe environment sets the stage for academic success.

“We want to continue to focus on improving our academics and improving our graduation rate,” Connelly said. “You know, not only graduate students, but graduate students who are college- and career-ready.”

Last week, before classes began, the school system held a “get back in school” session to encourage high schoolers who had dropped out to get back in. Connelly says that was pretty successful. Now the challenge is to make sure those who return, like other students, have the chance to walk across the stage and graduate.

Connelly may be new in this role, but he is no stranger to Fayetteville. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg before getting his Ph.D. in educational leadership from East Carolina University.

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