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Forsyth County Schools upgraded to highest credit rating

Like any individual or married couple who may want to buy property for a house, school systems can get better deals on large purchases if they have a good credit rating, and Forsyth County Schools has among the best in the nation.

Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the district’s general obligation debt to Aaa from Aa1, signaling the school system becoming one of only 77 in the country to receive the highest rating Moody’s hands out.

The system’s credit strengths include, according to Moody’s:

  • Large, diverse tax base with above-average socioeconomic factors
  • Sound reserve position despite recent deficits
  • Demonstrated management’s willingness to maintain fiscal balance

Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton counties also have the Aaa rating, and Forsyth has the second-highest Standard and Poor’s rating in Georgia and the highest Financial Efficiency Rating (five out of five starts) from the Georgia Department of Education, according to Rick Gunn, chief financial officer for the district.

“The higher credit rating helps in making the school district’s bonds more appealing to investors, and it also saves the district the amount of interest it would pay over the lifetime of a bond issue,” Gunn said.

The upgrade affects $410.3 million unlimited general obligation bonds and $24.9 million limited general obligation bonds.

According to Moody’s, “the upgrade to Aaa reflects the district’s large, expanding tax base, sound financial position that benefits from conservative budgeting and solid management, and moderate fixed costs due to the use of special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) proceeds to cover a significant portion of debt service.”

“The Board of Education,” Gunn said, “has been working diligently towards having its credit ratings with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s increased to the highest available rating.”