The Fresno Bee Features a TETER Project

A new Educational Employees Credit Union branch is part of a $3 million construction project at Clovis West High School and will be staffed by students when it opens in August.The EECU branch is part of a Clovis Unified School District program to develop a “career technical education” pathway focused on banking and financial work for students who want to learn skills to prepare them for jobs after high school or to continue their education in college, said Clovis West Principal Marc Hammack. The credit union branch will be open for business – and open to the public – when the fall semester begins in August.

“Students will be working in the branch, between three and four students every two hours during the school day, and outside of school hours as well,” Hammack said Monday on a tour of the construction.

“The students will be going through an 80-hour training with EECU over the summer on how to be bank tellers and do some of the other things that folks do in banks,” including helping customers apply for loans. Hammack said 28 students are enrolled in the banking-finance career pathway program for the 2016-17 school year.

The branch will include an EECU automated-teller machine that will become operational in mid-May. Both the ATM and the public entrance to the credit union will be near the front of the campus with easy access from the parking lot, where eight parking spaces will be designated for EECU customer use.

“We want the public to be able to use it, and we want students to be able to experience what it is like to work in a bank and the finance world,” Hammack said.

The branch will join a Union Bank branch at McLane High School in Fresno as working financial institutions on school campuses that afford students a chance to work in a banking environment. The Union Bank branch, however, is not open to the public.

Students working in the Clovis West branch as part of the class won’t be paid, but will receive class credit. Students who are at least 18 years old can be eligible to be hired by EECU to fill in during periods when school isn’t in session but the branch will remain open.

“It’s a great way for EECU to intern some kids prior to hiring them,” Hammack said. Students at the branch will be supervised by EECU employees.

Two Clovis West students, sophomore Giovanny Hernandez and junior Brittney Medina, said during the tour
that they’re eager for the training and to work in the credit union branch.

Hernandez, who is interested in someday starting his own company, said he wants to learn about handling and managing money “because it opens a lot of doors for other jobs.”

Medina, who works as a cashier at a fast-food restaurant, said she likes dealing with cash and hopes the experience will aid her in furthering her education and landing a career as a contract specialist handling purchasing chores for companies.

Dick Ashjian, EECU’s senior vice president for risk management, said the credit union and the school district are working closely on the issue of security for not only the branch, where cash will be handled, but also over public access to the campus to use the branch. Those discussions, he added, have included the Fresno Police Department and Clovis Unified’s own police force.

“Both EECU and Clovis Unified have a lot of experience in creating secure and safe environments,” he said.

EECU operates 16 branches in Central California. Hammack said he has been told by EECU officials that the Clovis West site “is probably one of the safest places to put a bank because you’ve got about 2,100 witnesses, and no one wants that many witnesses.”

“Typically, when we have visitors (to the campus), they have to sign in at the office,” Hammack said. “We’re not going to make the bank customers sign in.”

Mark Wilson Construction of Fresno is the contractor for the project. In addition to the new 2,000-square-foot branch, the Clovis West project includes about 3,000 square feet of remodeling to convert several classrooms of space into a modernized classroom as well as an entrepreneurial lab and a student store, where students can market and sell their own products.

Tim Sheehan: 559-441-6319, @TimSheehanNews