Fayette School System’s bond rating: Not too bad, considering

The Fayette County School System over the past few years has seen its share of financial uncertainties. While the balanced budget adopted earlier this month is one of two pieces of good news for the school system, the other is the AA-minus bond debt rating announced in late June.

School system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said Standard & Poor’s Rating Services has issued the district a rating of AA-/Stable on its school issuer credit rating, meaning the school system’s ability to repay its bond debt is very strong with the “Stable” outlook signifying that the rating is not likely to change. The “-“ sign indicates the relative strength of the system to meet its bond obligations compared to other bond issues in the same rating category, Berry-Dreisbach said.

“The rating we earned is not the highest possible rating, but probably for the school system, it is close to the highest we could receive with factors that are under our control. Getting up to a AAA rating would require growth in our tax digest and economic outlook,” said assistant superintendent of business and personnel management Tom Gray.

Gray added that rating was good news as a downgrade had been possible with the declining Fayette County tax digest and recent budget challenges.

“The AA- rating reflects the school district’s maintenance of a good financial position and recent budget actions, which officials believe will help address future budget shortfalls; participation in the broad and diverse Atlanta metropolitan statistical area economy, which is beginning to show signs of recovery after a prolonged downturn; strong income and wealth levels; and low debt burden,” according to Standard and Poor’s.

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