Peoria Unified takes stand for financial literacy

Board working on resolution

By Philip Haldiman
Independent Newsmedia

The Peoria Unified School District is taking a stand for financial literacy.

The governing board is working on a resolution supporting financial education for district students.

President Monica Ceja Martinez said the resolution stands as a verbal commitment to support and focus on financial literacy to include the implementation of comprehensive financial education strategies for the district community.

It will provide more of a standard criteria for financial literacy, she said.

Edits are being made to the proposed resolution and it will go before the governing board April 11 to bring attention to National Financial Literacy Month.

“This should be a growing discussion. It is important the governing board understands each pillar so we can integrate all pillars cohesively,” she  said.

The resolution cites statistics from a 2017 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, including:

  • 39 percent of adults in the United States carry credit card debt month-to-month with 16 percent of adults rolling over $2,500 or more each month,
  • 27 percent of adults in the United States do not save anything for retirement and only 40 percent have a budget,
  • 80 percent of adults acknowledge that they could benefit from financial advice.

Gregg Murset, a certified financial planner and founder of the money management tool for kids,, said one reason young adults are falling behind on personal finance is because it hasn’t been a priority in schools, so PUSD’s resolution is a step in the right direction.

He said parents want their kids to learn about personal finance, but they don’t feel qualified to teach the subject because their financial history isn’t so great.

“We tell parents all the time to forget what they’ve done, any experience they can pass down to their kids provides a great lesson,” he said.

Learning the basics of personal finance early in life can help reduce debt, increase savings, improve credit scores and provide less stress. Mr. Murset said building a foundation and basic understanding of the key financial terms — compound interest, 401K, stocks vs. bonds, different types of loans, etc. — can avoid a recipe for disaster in spending more than one can save

For this reason, he said literacy should be taught at a young age.

“The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ isn’t just for sports or musical instruments. It goes for managing money as well,” Mr. Murset said. “While the focus has been to get more financial education in our high schools, we would actually rather it be taught in middle school. By high school, our kids are already looking at cars, getting jobs, being offered credit cards and making decisions about student loans for college.”

The Arizona State Legislature is considering Senate Bill 1184, which would require all students receive some exposure to real-world money instruction. It passed the House, Feb. 14, and the House Education Committee, March 11.

Governing Board member David Sandoval said financial literacy in PUSD is without question the right subject to be talking about.

“This is definitely needed,” he said. “This subject is critical to the success of our students, in college, career and life.”

Students, administrators and external financial literacy advocates provided input on the draft resolution, who agreed the concept and data to support financial literacy is essential to serving a whole child.

Governing board member Cory Underhill said the district should be careful rolling out the resolution.

“Every year we come back to the classroom we are bombarded with all the new things that are coming out. I think we need to be careful when we roll things out, that we’re not saying, oh, this is a new initiative that we are all going to do,” she said. “This is saying that the board supports this as an  important issue that we are already dealing with. I just don’t want us to veer off course where it becomes not aligned with what we are doing.”



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