The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley expanded their partnership Tuesday night by signing a memorandum to offer expanded post-secondary opportunities for students at HCISD’s Early College High School.

The expanded opportunities for students will focus on three areas: engineering, education and academic core.

The plans for the Early College High School have been in the works for more than a year, and aims to help high school students earn an associate’s degree or higher while still in high school.

Courses completed at Early College High School are transferrable to any public university in the country. High school students will be able to experience college courses on a university campus with university students in the same classroom.

Those heading the partnership say that the implementation at Early College High School will have a big impact on the Valley.

“In our Valley, we want to make sure that we’re going to help the local economy, as well.” said Harlingen CISD Administrator for Organizational Development Veronica Kortan. “So, when you think about what the potential for impacting our local economy, and just the region, if they stay here in our Valley, imagine what the return is going to be on that investment.”