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Understanding finance a must for graduating students

Cornell School Board

Does your student know as much about personal finance as they should? Do you think that should be a requirement to graduate? The Cornell School District is addressing those questions, through a personal finance class, taught by business teacher Nicole Modl.

Modl explained what the course involves, during a Cornell School Board meeting Sept. 29.

Through her course, juniors go through the Next Gen curriculum, which has a lot of real-world examples and handson learning.

“It is a very extremely diverse curriculum for the students,” said Modl.

There are 10 units Modl goes over and at the end of the semester, she has students create final budgeting projects. The first thing she looks at, are behavior spending habits.

“We just really take a second to reflect with them on what their current state of finances is at their age,” said Modl.

Modl asks what students want to get out of the course.

“Taxes is the No. 1 that I get,” said Modl.

In addition to figuring out taxes, Modl goes over their pay stub with them if they are employed and starts them on checking accounts. The students also must come up with a budget for rent, groceries and gas.

Credit cards are another avenue she explores.

“So, we break it down very simple,” said Modl.

Modl also makes sure students are aware of investing for retirement.

“I really try to explain the importance of starting young,” she said.

In her class, Modl’s students even get to play the real time stock market.

“The students absolutely love this,” said Modl.

Students start out with $200,000 in fake money and they must invest in three different companies.

“They will check this thing all hours of the day, because they are so into the stock market,” said Modl.

Modl also prepares the kids for what could happen in life, in a roll-the-dice game. Students may end up divorced, with two kids, living in California. Based on their circumstance, they must take into account what will need to be budgeted for auto, health, life and rental insurances.

The students also have to have a two-week meal plan for a budget.

“We spent a lot of time on this,” said Modl. “They have a lot of fun with this and it’s really a reality check for them. I think it’s extremely important all kids have this class.”

The course does receive credits through CVTC and if the class is made part of a requirement for graduation – something not in the school’s policy, currently – grant funds could be available.

“We’d like to have that as an actual requirement, since we’re putting students in there anyway,” said superintendent Paul Schley.

Board members agreed the class is a great thing for students to have.

“A lot of kids don’t have a clue,” said board vice president Jamie Close.