School Branch Back in Session Thanks to Massachusetts Thrift

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When TD Bank decided to close some of its in-school branches in Massachusetts, a local mutual thrift gladly filled the void.

Institution for Savings in Newburyport, with assets of $1.4 billion, recently opened a branch office inside Masconomet High School in Topsfield.

It's the third in-school branch for the Institution for Savings. Bankers and regulators have been interested in developing school branches because it helps reach unbanked communities. The Institution for Savings sees its school locations as a way to teach young people about how to manage their personal finances, not to mention develop future members of its work force.

"We've recruited probably a half dozen students that have come back to work for us after attending college," says Michael Jones, president and chief executive. "It's a great means of training and recruiting."

Some students who work at the school branch hold part-time jobs at the thrift, typically coming in after they get out of school in the afternoons, Jones says.

School branches don't offer loans, but school staff and students can conduct most types of transactions at the office.

TD Bank vacated its offices in Masconomet High School and two other schools in the area, company says spokeswoman Judy Rusk. She declined to say why. TD still reaches about 8,000 students a month through a financial literacy program called the Wow! Zone, Rusk says.

The Institution for Savings' two other school branches are located at Ipswich High School and Triton High School. The mutual will look to open more school branches when possible, Jones says.

"Any place where we have a main retail office, we would be looking to put a branch in the local high school nearby," Jones says.

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