Janesville82°

Big Foot students to be required to take finance class

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Kayla Bunge
February 22, 2009
— Students need to know how to write checks.

And how credit cards work.


Even how supply and demand affects them.


So Big Foot High School soon will require students to complete a class in personal finance and economics, combining information about savings accounts and student loans with home equity and monetary policy.


“Students go on to confront things in their lives that they need to be prepared for,” said Principal Mike Hinske. “(Financial literacy) is a skill that’s absolutely essential for these kids.”


The school board on Monday approved the addition of a half-credit class called “Essentials of Personal Finance and Economics” to the graduation requirements, starting with the class of 2013.


Officials at the high school said the need for such a class was made clear when the district adopted its new mission statement—“to maximize each child’s learning and develop responsible, productive citizens”—earlier this school year.


The school has long offered a personal finance class through the business department and an economics class through the social studies department—but the classes reach only about half the students, teachers said.


“We decided we weren’t happy with that,” said business teacher Mike Sroda. “We think this topic is so important. We think every student … should be exposed to it.”


The teachers also said they long have talked about how much their subject areas overlap and sought ways to work together.


“It was a natural fit,” said social studies teacher Pat Hollihan.


The men will team teach the new class with students spending 4 1/2 weeks with each teacher.


The teachers believe there won’t be any trouble getting students interested in the class, even before it becomes a graduation requirement.


“What I tell kids on the first day is we’re gonna talk about things you’re gonna run into in real life that no one’s ever gonna take the time to teach you,” Sroda said. “Kids see this as probably the most relevant class they have. We don’t do anything they won’t use in real life.”


While the economic downturn wasn’t the impetus for creating such a class, it certainly lends some credence to making it a graduation requirement, officials said.


“Whether (the current economic) situation had occurred now or not, we would be going through same process, I believe,” Sroda said.


Students will be required to take the personal finance and economics class sometime during their sophomore, junior or senior years.


The addition of the class will bring the graduation requirement to 26 credits, effective with the class of 2013.


District Administrator Dorothy Kaufman said the school will “strongly recommending” all students take the class despite it not yet being a requirement for graduation.



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