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New approach to personal finance tries to empower Valley View students

BOLINGBROOK – Valley View School District has changed the way teachers instruct students about personal finance.

“Our former program wasn’t rigorous enough and it wasn’t as current as it needed to be,” said Tammi Conn, Valley View’s Director of Career and Technical Education. “We need to keep current with the times by teaching our students how to safely use online banking for everything from paying bills to bank account reconciliation."

A required course for juniors and seniors at both Bolingbrook and Romeoville high schools, Personal Finance (formerly called Consumer Education) lasts one semester. In that semester, students will continue to learn how to budget; how to balance a checkbook; how to use a credit card; how to rent or buy an apartment, home or condo; and how to look for and buy a car.

During the first week of the class, students were required to build a budget for Homecoming expenses.

Additionally, this year’s curriculum will include a real-life experience with newly purchased “Virtual Business Personal Finance” software which will enable each student to create an on-line virtual life in which they must stay healthy, get an education, work, buy groceries, find a place to live, provide transportation for themselves, buy insurance, pay taxes and invest.

“They each have to live their personal lives with a good balance of work, school, exercise and social life,” Conn said. “If they don’t, they will die and will have to start all over again.”

Also in the curriculum will be a new stock market game through which student groups will be able to invest play money and compete against other high school students around the country. Results will be based on whatever the stock market is doing at the time.

Eventually, Valley View hopes to push the personal finance class down to the sophomore level.

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