This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute trustees hope they were able to convince state legislators to let them restore their ability to enroll some high school freshmen and sophomores in college classes.

An executive order then-Gov. Bev Perdue signed in January 2012 created the statewide N.C. Career and College Promise program allowing high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college classes.

But CCC&TI previously had a dual-enrollment program that also included high school freshmen and sophomores. Under the executive order, the college could not enroll students in those grades anymore — a change that cost the college 311 students and $1 million in revenue.

Members of the college’s board of trustees and college president Kenneth Boham went to Raleigh Feb. 12-13 to discuss the issue with legislators, including Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell; House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenberg; Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Rockingham; Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe; and Rep. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga.

Board members who made the trip said they were pleased with the response from the legislators, two of whom – Jordan and Soucek – are on the House Subcommittee for Higher Education.

“We came home pretty confident that we won,” trustee Bill Stone said. “We’re going to get our kids back in classes that they want to take here and get some of our reimbursement back.”

CCC&TI doesn’t want to end the program that was the subject of Perdue’s executive order – which has been a boon for some community colleges, pumping up long-dormant high school enrollment – only gain a change that would allow the college once again to enroll younger students.

Discussing the lobbying trip at a meeting Wednesday, trustees praised Boham’s performance on the trip.

“I’ve been on a lot of these trips and I’ve seen a lot of people lobbying for the right thing, and Ken said he wanted me to go with him to Washington just to do what I’ve been doing,” trustee Ron Beane said. “And I said, ‘Look, you don’t need any help.’ He’s the best I’ve ever seen.”

Trustee Rankin Whittington agreed.

“I enjoyed watching Ken,” he said. “He would get his emotional level up just exactly to the right tone in discussions of the ninth- and 10th-graders so that people could appreciate that it’s important.”

The board will be joined by several Caldwell County commissioners for a second lobbying trip, this time to Washington, D.C., on March 20-22.