- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Students at several Council Bluffs elementary schools will have the chance to learn more about personal finance by working in bank branches at their schools.

The Daily Nonpareil reports (http://bit.ly/2iraomF ) First National Bank and American National Bank both recently opened branches in elementary schools.

The Council Bluffs school district now has nine different bank branches open in its schools. The branches are part of a larger effort to teach students about money by giving them the chance to open a savings account and contribute to it.

Carter Lake Elementary Principal Doreen Knuth said opening an account early lets students watch their savings grow and build good habits.

“I think you can’t start too early with this,” Knuth said. “There’s lots of economic woes in our society, and there’s always a cause for early literacy - and that includes early financial literacy. The sooner a student learns the habit of saving, the more it would carry on into adulthood.”

At Edison Elementary School, fourth-grader Nathan Anderson was the first student to open a savings account after the branch opened Thursday. He deposited $5 his mom gave him for the account.

“I don’t like saving,” Nathan said, but added that he loves buying toys and games.

District officials hope students will learn the benefit of saving up for something before they buy it instead of borrowing money to buy things.

“If you can save up for something and purchase it, then there’s nothing to worry about, like making payments down the line,” Edison Principal Mike Naughton said. “Students really need to understand that at an early age because, if we can set them up with the right skills, then they’ll practice financial literacy.”

Edison fifth-grader Layla Carman is one of the 12 students who were chosen to work as bank tellers at her school’s new branch.

“I’m very excited,” Layla said at the bank’s opening. “I didn’t know it was going to be this big of a deal.”

Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh and several business leaders from the community attended Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the bank.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, http://www.nonpareilonline.com

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