hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 16, 2013

With cash in hand, this is no time for guessing

Students learn to handle cash, credit cards

By Mike LaBella
Staff Writer

---- — Students graduating from high school might be going on to college, entering the world of work, or moving on to some other endeavor.

No matter where they go, educators say the students need to be better prepared to manage their money — the cash in their pockets, their personal check books and their credit cards.

Now, Haverhill High students can learn those skills right at school.

Haverhill High has received a $20,000 grant from the state to implement a financial literacy Program. The three-year pilot program will provide students with skills to handle personal finances and manage money and credit. Only 11 schools in 10 cities or school districts were awarded grants as part of the Financial Literacy Pilot program created by the state.

”One of the things that research shows in America is that many students are not prepared when they go out into the world to handle things like check books, loans, budgeting and credit card use, so the state determined we have to educate high school students more in financial matters,” said Haverhill High Principal Bernard Nangle.

”When kids turn 18, they get a lot of credit card applications coming at them and they can get into trouble because of it,’’ he said. “We want to provide students with a background about what finances are all about and how to better manage a budget for expenses.”

The 10 communities and districts receiving grants are Haverhill, Fall River, Lowell, Holyoke, Lynn, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, and Worcester Technical.

The $20,000 first-year grants were announced by State Treasurer Steve Grossman and Mitchell Chester, commissioner of elementary and secondary education for the state.

“We are taking action to give young people strong financial foundations for their future,” said Grossman. “These 10 communities will help provide each student with the tools to achieve basic financial literacy before graduation.”

The grant will be used to provide Haverhill High with iPads, financial literacy software, textbooks and teacher training. Additional money will become available for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years.

Haverhill High already offers a program where students learn the skills involved in working at a bank, such as counting money out of a drawer and taking loan information. Nangle said many students in the program are on internships as tellers or customer service representatives

“It’s never too early to learn how to budget your money,” said Crystal Ortega, a junior who works as a teller at the Haverhill Bank branch located at the high school. “We encourage savings accounts so our customers have to get the money before they can spend it.”

The new Financial Literacy Program will focus on the personal aspect of finances, such as how to manage a budget. The program will be introduced to the curriculum as part of the high school’s freshman seminar, a class intended to help improve skills such as using a computer, studying and time management, and is required of all freshmen. Segments will also be developed for the Freshman Academy and other programs available at Haverhill High, and a Credit for Life fair will happen in 2014.

Richie Davis, a junior who is taking an accounting class and is interested in the world of business, thinks a financial literacy class would be a good one to take.

“I took a banking class where we briefly talked about managing a personal budget, but this class would be awesome and I’d definitely take it,” he said. “Kids get offered credit cards with short-term deals, but then they can get in trouble long term, not knowing how much they have to make in payments.

“This kind of class would probably teach you about everything, including the bad things about credit cards, having a bank account and balancing your checkbook... those kinds of things,” he said.

Nangle said the grant will allow the school to purchase technology to help support the program without teachers having to schedule class time in a computer lab. He said that when needed, iPads will be rolled into a classroom on a cart.

“To sign up for a computer classroom may take two weeks, so if the teacher wants to run the class tomorrow, they can roll the cart into the classroom,” Nangle said.

Nangle said the Credit for Life fair planned for the spring of 2014 will include other area schools showing what they are doing to teach students about finances.