At a board meeting Feb. 25, the Comal ISD board of trustees approved the creation of a second high school of choice, or HSOC, that will be co-located at Spring Branch Middle School.

The need for a second HSOC on the west side of the district is a result of rising enrollment rates and a desire to provide an early college education option to students who live in the Hwy. 281 corridor, Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement Corbee Wunderlich said at the meeting.

The HSOC’s program will be modeled after Memorial Early College High School, which is both an early college high school and a new technology high school offering students a program with advanced placement and dual-credit options as well as hands-on, project-based instruction.

More than 360 students from across the district are enrolled at MECHS, which opened in 2009.

“The success of this model has attracted more students,” Wunderlich said. “We anticipate interest increasing if the high school of choice at Spring Branch Middle is approved.”

According to Wunderlich, students would benefit from having an early college on the west side of the district to provide options that are closer and require less driving on the part of students and parents.

Spring Branch Middle School was chosen for the co-location because of its lower enrollment and a layout that is conducive to housing a new HSOC, Wunderlich said.

The new HSOC will occupy classrooms in the former sixth-grade wing of Spring Branch and will have its own bus and parent drop-off, a dedicated entrance, separate parking and outdoor space.

"There is a strong focus on safety—a strong focus on creating a campus within a campus," said Executive Director of Communications Steve Stanford.

Approximately 40-50 ninth-grade students are expected to enroll in the new HSOC for the 2020-21 school year, and the board plans to add a new ninth-grade class each year.

According to the board of trustees, as the district continues to grow, plans for a stand-alone HSOC in the Hwy. 281 corridor will be considered in the future.