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Moore Public Schools group photo with donation check

Moore Public Schools — the Oklahoma school district that could.

When administrators at Moore Public Schools in Oklahoma learned last year about a growing number of high school students who were sleeping in cars or couch-surfing at friends’ homes, they did not look the other way. Instead, they dedicated a two-acre parcel of land at one of the district’s 35 schools for the development of a “tiny home” village for unhoused teens enrolled in the district, the fourth largest district in the state.

Moore Public Schools staff and students picture

In 2023, a student-led annual charitable initiative called Moore Love, raised more than $370,000 for various projects chosen by students. Other community partners — including Commerce Bank — also joined in the fundraising for the chosen projects. The school district, along with Moore Public Schools Foundation, partnered with Bridges, Inc., an Oklahoma nonprofit, to operate a program called Bridges Moore, which will kick off this fall. In addition to helping students with food, clothing, medical needs, the project also plans to build tiny homes to provide stable housing for district students.

“The idea is to provide these students with a stable environment so they can finish school,” said B.J. Ryan, CFO and executive director of finance for Moore Public Schools. “Bridges staff will also help facilitate their transition to college, vocational school or the workforce. Our goal is to help them becoming contributing members of the community.”

Improving as you grow.

Moore Public Schools Group photo with Be The Chance sign

The Bridges Moore project is one of the innovative ways the district is responding to changing needs in a period of rapid growth. Excluding the pandemic years, Moore Public Schools has been adding from 300 to 500 students a year, according to Ryan. The district currently serves approximately 25,000 students across 159 square miles from Moore to south Oklahoma City.

Population growth also led district administrators to take a fresh look at how it approached its own business and operations, says Ryan, who has served in his current role since 2014.

“The district traditionally worked with retail banks,” he explained. “When we brought in Commerce and saw what a commercial bank could do, it really opened our eyes to what was possible and what we could do to improve our efficiency.”

That has included automating the way it pays many of its bills. Since implementing Commerce Bank’s Accounts Payable (AP) Card program in 2019, Moore Public Schools has reduced the number of paper checks it writes to suppliers each month by 70%.

Now the district pays nearly 200 participating suppliers using a virtual credit card. Not only does the AP Card program reduce checking processing costs, it also earns the school district a revenue share in the process. In 2022 alone, the amount totaled $50,000.

“Commerce had a strong grasp on how best to implement this solution, while also providing strong ongoing oversight,” Ryan said. “By working within the confines of our capabilities, policies and procedures, they found a solution that worked for us. And they made us comfortable with the process.”

Implementation of the AP Card Program was “practically seamless,” he added. The bank took responsibility for signing up suppliers who would accept virtual cards and then managing the payment process. “Because of the time and money it saves, we now look for vendors who agree upfront to accept one-time use cards for payment,” he said.

More recently, the school district has added Commerce Bank purchasing cards to it payments solutions.

“Companies are getting away from the purchase order process,” noted Ryan. “Before we had an electronic payment option, we were sometimes limited in our vendor choices. The purchasing cards meet school district statues and rules for payments, while enabling our vendors to receive faster payment.”

Moore Public School's <p>Moore Love charity logo established 2018

Following a soft rollout with administrators during the 2022–2023 school year, the program is expected to expand to 300 users across the district over the next school year.

Beyond banking.

In addition to these solutions, Commerce has also provided treasury services on a bond issue and supported Moore Public Schools with ACH payments and investment services.

“One of the things I appreciate most about Commerce is the level of professionalism and service that they bring to our relationship,” Ryan said. “When we announced the tiny home program, Commerce stepped up to help.”

“Our bankers are good at identifying a need and presenting solutions,” he said. “I know what I can expect from them because they expect it of themselves.”

“When we brought in Commerce and saw what a commercial bank could do, it really opened our eyes to what was possible and what we could do to improve our efficiency.”
B.J. Ryan
CFO and Executive Director of Finance
Moore Public Schools

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