EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Wednesday McAllen ISD and Edinburg CISD unveiled a major partnership with UTRGV.

Now both school districts and the university’s plan to build new collegiate high schools is underway.

McAllen ISD signed a new deal with the university to start The McAllen ISD – UTRGV Collegiate Academy. The deal was approved by the McAllen ISD Board of Trustees in a meeting held on March 21.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey told ValleyCentral this will serve as a unique opportunity for high school students.

“Our faculty members will be doing the instruction, it will be an experience like no other,” Bailey said. “This is historic what this is, every student who goes to that high school will be a UTRGV student in a degree program working towards a degree while they are in high school.”  

About $26 million has been set aside by UTRGV, McAllen ISD, and the City of McAllen to fund this new academy. Four degree programs will be offered including, Education, Engineering, Health Science, and Computer Science.

McAllen ISD Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez said this academy will get more students to stay close to home.

“It’s going to give kids the opportunity to not have to leave the Valley to go chase their dreams,” Gonzalez said. “If a kid wants to be a medical doctor, they can stay here and do it and continue to practice here.”  

The McAllen ISD – UTRGV Collegiate Academy will be located in a 40-acre property on the corner of Pecan Boulevard and McColl Road. However, McAllen ISD is not the only district making this partnership with UTRGV.

Edinburg CISD approved plans to start its own Collegiate Academy with UTRGV during a special board meeting held Wednesday. ECISD is aiming to have up to 900 students attend its academy with funds being split between the district and the university.

“The construction of the project is going to cost us 50% and the university 50%,” said Mario Salinas, Superintendent for ECISD.” The design of the project is going to cost 50% and the university 50%.”

But the biggest reason for ECISD to start this project is to give all its students a chance to get a college education.

“We don’t want this high school to be an elite high school,” Salinas said. “Our demographics in Edinburg is 82% economically disadvantaged. We want the high school to reflect those numbers.” 

As plans for both collegiate academies are now underway, there is excitement for the next generation of students.

“We expect for those students to be highly successful to be on a fast track not just to a degree but to a wonderful profession,” Bailey said.

The new schools are expected to save students and their families nearly $5,000 per semester. Student selections will be starting this spring. Both campuses are aiming to open by the fall of 2023.