HARLINGEN, Texas – Dr. Guy Bailey, president of UT-Rio Grande Valley, says he has never worked with a school district as smoothly as Harlingen CISD. 

Bailey participated Tuesday in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new UTRGV Early College High School, located at 2901 Medical Drive in Harlingen.

“I cannot think of anything I am prouder of,” Bailey said, referring to the new school.

Bailey recalled a conversation he had a couple of years ago with Harlingen CISD Superintendent Art Cavazos. They discussed the potential of the new school.

“I have never worked with a school system that is easier to work with, better to work with,” Bailey said.

Bailey was also full of praise for Cavazos, saying he is enthusiastic to get things done.

“I have worked with a lot of superintendents in a lot of states. This guy, nobody is better than he is. He has done a great job. He has been terrific every step of the way,” Bailey said of Cavazos.

Harlingen CISD established its Early College High School in fall 2007. In fall 2017, the early college high school entered into an agreement with UTRGV. Plans for building a new campus began in February 2019.

Harlingen CISD leaders say the new campus will replace the current ECHS on Pecan Street with a 64,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility on 6.3 acres gifted by the City of Harlingen. The design phase began in spring 2019, with the new campus expected to open fall in 2021.

They point out UTRGV ECHS will offer students a direct path to a bachelor’s degree with a focus on academic core, engineering, computer science or education. Through the program, students can earn up to 60 hours by the time they graduate from high school.

“This project will transform education,” Bailey said. “The opportunities it will create for our students are absolutely remarkable. Students will get a head start on some of the best careers. It will be tremendous for them.”

Bailey said the HCISD board of trustees has been a dream to work with. “We could never ask for anything more than what you’ve done,” he said.

The City of Harlingen has been “terrific” also, Bailey said. “Everybody here in Harlingen has been wonderful to work with. Without that level of cooperation we would never be there we are.”

Dr. Janna Arney is UTRGV deputy president and interim provost. Arney said the UTRGV-HCISD partnership will benefit hundreds of Valley high school students by giving them an academic and a financial jump on college.

“This partnership exemplifies UTRGV’s commitment to student success and specifically to the success of our Harlingen Early College High School students,” Arney said. “We are grateful to the City of Harlingen and to the Harlingen Consolidated ISD for being great partners in this extraordinary project.”

The new building was made possible by the city’s land donation, and an agreement between UTRGV and HCISD to pay half each for construction.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell said the new school highlights the growing relationship between the university, the city and the school district.

“This is truly an historic and innovative partnership which will make higher education degrees so much more accessible to young people in our community,” Boswell said.

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