BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (2/25/10)--Kern Schools FCU, located in Bakersfield, Calif.--an area hard hit by the recession--has announced it will close four of its 14 branches, effective March 9. The branches are East Hills, Save Mart Wasco, Save Mart Hageman and Ridgecrest, according to an announcement on Kern Schools FCU's website. Kern Schools President/CEO Steve Renock told The Bakersfield Californian (Feb. 24) the closures will result in 40 layoffs as part of a plan to trim the credit union's budget. Half the layoffs will come from the branch closings. Some staff at those branches will transfer to other branches. The other layoffs will be from back-office lending operations and the credit union's communications center. In January, the $1.7 billion asset credit union announced it had losses totaling $40 million for 2009 from borrowers having difficulty paying their auto laons and mortgage payments as the recession progressed. East Hills branch was closed because another larger branch exists about two miles away. Both Save Mart supermarket branches were closed because each require a staff of eight people and cannot provide services beyond those available at ATMs. The Ridgecrest branch is located two hours away--beyond the area the credit union can serve effectively, Renock told the newspaper.