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STREATOR -- A high school credit union will be initiated next year as both a teaching tool and service.

The Streator school board will join forces with Onized Credit Union of Streator to set up a satellite facility during school hours.

Three students and a credit union employee will run the program during lunch and other free time.

The $25,525 annual cost for computer equipment, a supervisor and student workers will be picked up by the credit union's main office. There will be minimum cost to the school, said teacher Chris Peterson.

The program will allow students interested in going into finance to get experience. It will also be open to teachers.

The credit union will operate as any other such facility, said credit union officer Angie Kusnerick.

The three minimum-wage student employees "will be there to learn the ins and outs of the business and also to answer any (student) questions," said Kusnerick.

Because most of the customers will be students, with low-paying, part-time jobs, the ability to make large deposits or withdrawals will be diminished, though they will still get experience in real-world finance, she said.

The program has been initiated in a few Illinois high schools, though not in the central part of the state, said Kusnerick.

Any student or teacher would be eligible to join the credit union. A credit union, unlike a traditional bank, is owned by its members.

"We think they will be more comfortable asking questions of their peers," she said.

Unless a student is brought up with a working knowledge of finance, "they probably do not feel comfortable going to a financial institution without their parents," Kusnerick said.

Dealing with student workers is nothing new to Onized. It has had student workers for 20 years, utilizing a high school program that allows young people to get experience in their chosen field. The new program will not only quadruple the number of students used, but will give work that extracurricular activities would normally not allow, she said.

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