Austin Community College's Hays campus is expected to be the site of Hays CISD's early college high school. Austin Community College's Hays campus is expected to be the site of Hays CISD's early college high school.[/caption]

An early college high school is projected to open at Hays CISD in time for the 2016-17 school year, a district spokesman said.

Hays CISD is partnering with Austin Community College to operate the early college high school, which gives students the opportunity to earn as many as 60 college credit hours upon earning their diploma.

“These are exciting partnerships. By working together, ACC and the participating school districts ensure that students are leaving high school better prepared for either entering the workforce or continuing on to earn a bachelor degree,” Charles Cook, ACC Provost, said in a news release. “We’re building the foundation for a college-going culture.”

The district had been gearing toward a fall 2015 opening but moved the date back to allow for more planning and preparation, Hays CISD spokesman Tim Savoy said.
The school is expected be located on the Austin Community College Hays campus, which opened January 2014.

District officials said the school could eventually have its own facilities on the ACC Hays campus but will look to begin by sharing space with the college.
Beginning with 50 to 100 ninth-grade students in its first year, the early college high school will add a new cohort every year and eventually reach a maximum of 400 students.

Serving more than 450 students in Austin, Bastrop, Elgin and Manor ISDs, ACC’s early college high schools allow students to take high school and college courses at the same time. Students in the program can potentially earn an associate’s degree or career and technical certificate by the time they graduate high school.

Through public-private partnerships, grants and shared-cost agreements, tuition is free for early college high school students. As such, early college high schools typically enroll first-generation college students and other underrepresented populations, such as low-income and at-risk youth.

“To graduate high school with a college degree in hand, it’s an incredible opportunity for our students,” Michael McKie, Hays CISD superintendent, said in the release. “Students who otherwise might not have the chance to attend college will have that option now.”