EL PASO, Texas - The Ysleta Independent School District is looking to open two early college high schools at local campuses, pending approval from the Texas Education Agency.
If approved, Ysleta and Parkland high schools will enroll students for its early college curriculum.
Currently, YISD only has one early college high school, Valle Verde, located on the El Paso Community College main campus in the lower valley.
Early college programs in El Paso allow students to take EPCC courses while in high school, obtaining their diploma and associate's degree at the same time.
The EPCC courses are at no cost to students' families.
Valle Verde's principal, Paul Covey, said the school can only accommodate 400 students. He added the opening of more campus will benefit students across the city.
"We've had to turn away hundreds, so by having two more early college high schools, we'll be able to make sure that every kid gets this opportunity," Covey said.
The campus opened in 2007 and has become a nationally recognized school by Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report.
It has also been named a top school in the El Paso.
"Kids come to our school knowing they want to be a doctor, or a physicist or something in the STEM field, so they look at an early college high school as a way to get a two-year head start," said Covey.
Valle Verde students are challenged with college courses they have to take at the EPCC campus.
"I'm getting prepared to go to college by actually going to college, you start off with the entry-level classes, it eases you into it," said Jacob Lane, a junior at Valle Verde.
YISD said the "school within a school" model allows students to fully enjoy a traditional high school experience which includes opportunities to participate in athletics, fine arts, and other extra-curricular activities.
Ysleta and Parkland are expected to find out in Spring 2017 if the TEA approved the early college high school campuses.
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