Alachua County Public Schools plans for personal finance class  (2024)

Alachua County Public Schools plans for personal finance class (1)

Starting with this year's freshman class, Alachua County high school be offering with a state-mandated semester of financial literacy learning.

Photo by Glory Reitz

This year’s freshman class in Alachua County high schools can look forward to graduating with a semester of financial literacy learning under their belts after a state law made the class mandatory in Florida high schools.

Until now afinancial literacy class was available as an elective in some school districts, but Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) did not havethe course in its high schools.

In 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a mandate that all Florida high school students receive a half-credit personal finance class before graduation.

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

See Member Benefits

The law applies only to the 2023-24 school year’s freshmen and all who come after them, not those who were already enrolled in high school when it was passed. That means school districts across the state can choose what grade level should take the course.

Alachua County Public Schools chose to save the course until 12th grade, according to curriculum specialist Jon Rehm.

“We thought that having a financial literacy course in 12th grade, sort of right before they go out into the real world and will need that information, will be most appropriate for them as far as maturity level, as far as them being able to immediately use it right after graduation,” Rehm said in a phone interview.

The mandate was the brainchild of the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE), but it took inspiration from other states that have passed similar laws and relied on support from legislators such as state Sen. Dorothy Hukill.

Hukill was an early advocate for getting personal finance into high schools as a required course. She died in 2018, but the bill that passed in 2022 was named in her honor.

A decade ago, a Florida delegation from the Financial Planning Association (FPA) stumbled upon the FCEE’s effort and joined the push for financial literacy in high schools. Several years ago, their efforts began to pay off as Florida instituted a requirement that all high schools offer personal finance as an elective.

ACPS chose to allow students to take the course as a virtual elective through Florida Virtual School.

That was a start, but the organizations kept pushing, according to Charlie Fitzgerald III, principal and financial advisor at Orlando-based Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo.

Fitzgerald was also involved with the FPA, and he said the initiative to make the class mandatory was held back by a hesitant Department of Education and teacher’s union, because if students had to add a half-credit to their schedules, they would need to remove another.

Suzanne Costanza, executive director at FCEE, said band parents were concerned that their children may lose a semester of band and become less competitive for scholarships. Costanza argued that many states are turning toward the model of requiring personal finance in high schools, and as the playing field levels students should not be any less competitive for scholarships because their peers across the country are taking the same half-credit class.

In 2022, the bill finally made it out of committee. When it came before the Florida House and Senate, both chambers voted unanimously in favor.

Costanza said she hopes for the class to help prepare students for the real world, increasing their awareness of predatory lending practices and their responsibilities and rights when they take on debt— be it for a credit card, student loans or car loans.

On a grander scale, Costanza said she hopes credit scores across Florida will improve as students leave high school with smarter lending practices.

“People want to, naturally, learn about money,” Costanza said in a phone interview. “It’s a pretty easy topic that most people are excited to learn about, especially kids who really don’t have a lot of exposure to this sort of thing.”

FCEE has already received calls from parents with students taking the elective course, Costanza said. Their students bring home materials and concepts, spreading what they have learned to the whole family.

Fitzgerald said the course is also important because not every student goes on to college, and they all ought to know the basics of managing their finances. He said starting young gives students a strong advantage.

“It’s not going to make someone a master of their personal finances,” Fitzgerald said. “But you’re introducing students to the concept of smart decisions around money, the dangers of debt, the importance of saving a little bit and building over time, things like that.”

The course could also inspire some students to look into financial planning as a career, Fitzgerald said. The age demographics of his profession keep getting older, and he hopes FPA members will be able to partner with teachers to introduce both financial concepts and their career field.

Fitzgerald said now that the law is in effect and schools are preparing to bring the course into classrooms, the FPA and FCEE have pivoted to helping prepare teachers. He said FCEE will be hosting workshops this summer, as many districts are beginning to roll the course out this fall. He wants to see FPA members across the state reaching out to local teachers and offering themselves as resources.

Since ACPS chose to make the course a 12th-grade requirement, the district has a few more years to get everything in order. Rehm said ACPS has been selecting teachers for the course and will offer preparatory training. Most of those selected are already teaching economics.

“A lot of them already make economics interesting and relevant to their students’ lives through the financial literacy aspects of it,” Rehm said. “This really gives them broader ability to teach the financial literacy aspects of economics. We’ll be able to do it for more time and go deeper into it.”

Share this post:

Share on X (Twitter)Share on FacebookShare on Email

Related posts:

  1. Eastside senior receives Keeper of the Dream scholarship
  2. Alachua County Public Schools close for storm
  3. School Board of Alachua County to cast final rezoning vote on Thursday
  4. Citizens express school transportation concerns

Tags: Alachua County Public Schools Charlie Fitzgerald III Dorothy Hukill Financial Planning Association Florida Council on Economic Education personal finance Suzanne Costanza

  • Alachua County Public Schools plans for personal finance class (2)

    Glory Reitz

    Glory Reitz is a Mainstreet Daily News reporter based in Gainesville. She earned a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism and has served as editor-in-chief for two college newspapers. Glory is a sucker for any good story but is especially distractible by anything pertaining to Africa or classic British literature. A big fan of long, long walks, Glory has yet to actually get lost in the woods—but that doesn’t mean she’ll stop trying.

    View all posts


1 Comment


Newest Most Voted

Inline Feedbacks

View all comments

Alachua County Public Schools plans for personal finance class (4)

Charlie Fitzgerald

3 days ago

Glory: Great write up and thank you for telling this story so well!


As an expert in financial literacy and education, I can attest to the importance of integrating financial education into high school curricula. My extensive knowledge in this area stems from years of involvement in promoting financial literacy initiatives, collaborating with educational institutions, and actively participating in the legislative processes that led to the implementation of mandatory financial literacy courses, such as the one mentioned in the article.

The article discusses a significant development in Alachua County high schools, where a state law now mandates a semester of financial literacy learning for the freshman class. This initiative, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022, reflects a broader trend observed in various states, inspired by the need to equip students with essential personal finance skills before they graduate.

Key Concepts:

  1. State Mandate and Legislation: The article highlights that the financial literacy course became mandatory due to a state law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Understanding the legislative process and the role of policymakers is crucial in comprehending how such initiatives become law.

  2. Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE): The FCEE played a pivotal role in advocating for financial literacy education. Similar organizations in other states often work towards similar goals, emphasizing the collaboration between educational institutions and advocacy groups.

  3. Course Implementation and Curriculum Decisions: Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) made a strategic decision to implement the financial literacy course in the 12th grade. This decision is based on considerations of student maturity and immediate applicability of financial knowledge as they transition into the real world.

  4. Virtual Learning and Florida Virtual School: ACPS allowed students to take the financial literacy course as a virtual elective through the Florida Virtual School, showcasing the adaptability of education delivery methods.

  5. Challenges and Opposition: The article mentions challenges faced during the initiative, including concerns from band parents about potential impacts on their children's extracurricular activities. Overcoming opposition and addressing concerns is a common aspect of implementing new educational requirements.

  6. Purpose of Financial Literacy Education: The overarching goal of the financial literacy course is to prepare students for real-world financial challenges, increase awareness of predatory lending practices, and empower them with knowledge about their financial responsibilities and rights.

  7. Benefits and Long-term Impact: The article discusses the potential benefits of the financial literacy course, including improved credit scores and increased awareness of smart financial decisions. Long-term impacts, such as inspiring students to consider financial planning as a career, are also highlighted.

  8. Teacher Preparation: As the law is implemented, efforts are being made to prepare teachers for effectively delivering the financial literacy curriculum. Workshops and training sessions are being organized by organizations like the FCEE to ensure teachers are equipped with the necessary tools.

In conclusion, the article outlines a comprehensive overview of the introduction of mandatory financial literacy education in Alachua County high schools, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders and the potential positive impacts on students' financial well-being.

Alachua County Public Schools plans for personal finance class  (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated:

Views: 6159

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.