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Should high schoolers be taught how to balance a checkbook? Bill filed again to require it

Grad cap
The Seminole High School Class of 2018 graduation cap and tassel during Commencement Ceremony at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD | Times
 
The idea of making “financial literacy” a high school graduation requirement is far from a new idea in the Florida Legislature, but this year its foremost champion has a different face. State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Republican from Port Orange, sponsored the measure for years, with the idea that students should be able to balance a checkbook, calculate interest rates and otherwise know how to manage their money before they fully join the workforce.
 
But after Hukill died last year, Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, has taken up the effort.
 
“She was a good friend,” Hutson said. “So it’s an emotional bill and I’m looking forward to getting it across the finish line in her honor.”
 
The bill, SB 114, passed through its first committee, the Senate Education Committee, with unanimous “yes” votes on Tuesday. Hutson said he’s optimistic that the House, which has in the past been resistant to the idea, will be more open to it this year in part due to some fresh-faced new members.
 
“There are people in the House that are younger that believe this is important and they never had this opportunity whereas their parents did,” he said. "We got rid of this program and we’re bringing this back.”
 
After lawmakers from both parties praised the bill, several also said they should consider extending the school day or the school year as more curriculum requirements and programs pile up, plus it would help keep Florida “competitive,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee.
 
“When you have a limited amount of time there’s only so much you can do,” he said, after also expressing his support for a different bill that would continue an early education music program.
 
“I’d love to join ... in a discussion of changing that agrarian calendar we go by now and figuring out how we put more hours in the day or look at extending the school year,” agreed Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, the committee’s chairman. “I think we have two examples here that are very valuable but it becomes difficult to put in the school day.”

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