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EDINBURG — The nearly $30 million, 66,660-square-foot UTRGV-Edinburg CISD Collegiate High School is nearing completion with officials saying it is about 75% done with construction to finish around April.
Modeled nearly identically after the 64,000-square-foot UTRGV Harlingen Collegiate High School, the new state-of-the-art facility is about two months away from the scheduled completion date with the Director of Facilities Roberto Gomez saying it’s all about the finishing details.
Giving The Monitor a tour of the facility on Thursday with Gomez and Edinburg CISD Superintendent Mario Salinas, Salinas said he is excited for the finished product and to be able to show it to parents soon.
“We’ve been talking that it’s going to be a state-of-the art facility, but talking and actually seeing and walking through it is different,” Salinas said. “And then the (UTRGV- ECISD Collegiate) students are in portable buildings, so to go from that to this, we can hardly wait.”
Initially breaking ground for the facility in November 2022, walking into the building, Gomez goes into details about what each area will be used for and what it will look like in a couple of months.
The main area is an open floor concept featuring a kitchen area, the cafeteria, a library and study areas on the first floor with two center staircases, stairs at the ends of the building and an elevator leading to the second floor.
The high school has a total of 35 classrooms, with 18 on the first floor and 17 on the second. Each classroom has suspended ceilings.
The first floor features three labs that are designated for physics classes, one manufacturing lab that will include machines and equipment for engineering classes and one computer science lab.
On the second floor alongside the classrooms, it features three labs for biology and chemistry classes and an auditorium that could seat about 150 students.
Salinas said the facility has a capacity of about 800 students, expecting around 500 students to be enrolled in the high school’s first semester in operation this fall. Currently, the UTRGV-ECISD Collegiate High School has about 325 students and is expected to recruit about 200 students.
Already starting the recruitment plans, Salinas said as soon as next week the district will travel to all ECISD seven middle schools and talk to 7th and 8th graders about the high school.
Salinas said the collegiate high school will not have any criteria to qualify to enroll.
“If the student and the parents want an opportunity to try to qualify, we’re going to give them an opportunity,” he said. “We’re not going to pull them back because they got bad grades or got disciplined for attendance, we will start a clean state if they think it’s something that they want to try, we’ll give it a shot.”
Another recruitment plan Salinas mentioned in the tour is the location of the campus.
Positioned right next to the expressway on Freddy Gonzalez Drive, Salinas said thousands of people drive on that section of the expressway on a daily basis. He added that with a prime location like that he wants to illuminate the side facing the expressway to advertise the high school, the school district and the partnership with UTRGV.
Already receiving the transformers and chillers, something Gomez said usually takes a while, he said the facility is moving along fast. He said the project is focusing on the detailed finishes such as electrical items, ceilings installments, painting, flooring with furniture installments soon after.
Last month at a ECISD school board meeting, an agenda item regarding the purchase of network infrastructure was put on the spotlight with a concern from ECISD having to pay the whole cost of $431,574.71. Board members questioned why this cost was not part of the down-the-middle split in the memorandum of understanding between the district and UTRGV.
In the following meeting, the item was approved with UTRGV and the ECISD splitting the cost. Salinas said he and Gomez met with UTRGV and came to an understanding regarding the split and that the network infrastructure was a part of the memorandum.