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Take that to the bank

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | February 28, 2024 1:05 AM

RATHDRUM — Bank applications and financial paperwork can be daunting, especially for young people who have never opened checking accounts.

Through a new financial literacy series at Mountain View Alternative High School, students are learning the basics so they will be more knowledgeable about money, budgeting, credit and more before they strike out into the world.

Several representatives from credit unions and banks participated Tuesday in Mountain View's inaugural Bank Day, a speed dating-type setting where students brought questions to the different financial professionals and had brief discussions about topics such as "What is interest?" and "How do you obtain a debit card?"

“We felt it’s especially important to start at an alternative high school because money is already not a great topic at home, so we want to bridge that gap and change that while they’re still young enough,” said Ashley Adams, a community development specialist for P1FCU's northern region. "We want them to feel comfortable asking the questions, feel comfortable with money and know how to use it and how the system works.”

“I don’t know how to build credit, so I learned that today,” junior Alliandra Bergen said.

Bridget Goodwin, community branch manager for STCU in Rathdrum, said she spent some time helping students understand overdraft fees.

"I explained the ways you can overdraft your account and how most financial institutions are limited as to how many fees they can charge per day," Goodwin said. "They were shocked they could get charged for depositing a check that bounces.”

Brayden Anderson, sophomore, said it was nice that local financial pros took time out of their day to come to Mountain View.

“I definitely learned more about each bank," he said.

Mountain View teacher Mark Gorton helped coordinate Bank Day as high school students throughout Idaho are required to take financial literacy courses following the passage of House Bill 92, which was signed into law March 20, 2023, and went into effect July 1, 2023.

He said he hopes to make this an annual event that will grow.

“Schools really can’t work in a bubble anymore,” Gorton said. “We have to start reaching out and working more with our community partners. I’m very fortunate many of our institutions here in town were willing to come in and take the time to work with our students on this.”

    Mountain View Alternative High junior Alliandra Bergen, center, discusses building credit and interest with STCU community bank manager Bridget Goodwin, left, and P1FCU community development specialist Ashley Adams during Mountain View's inaugural Bank Day in the school gym Tuesday morning.