Standard and Poor’s Rating Services has reaffirmed Rockford Public Schools’ General Obligation Bond rating of AA- and issued the district’s financial outlook as “stable” – a major achievement, especially in light of the state’s financial uncertainty. S&P ratings range from a high of AAA to D (default). Rockford School District’s AA- is the fourth highest rating in a 17-level scoring system.
“A high ratings score makes investing in RPS 205 bonds much more attractive to potential investors,” said Martin McConahay, Interim Chief Financial Officer. “It also keeps bond insurance costs much lower.”
The rating is based on both internal financial practices and local economic factors. Stacie Talbert Scott, Executive Director of Budget and Purchasing, presented the good news at this week’s Rockford School Board meeting.
S&P cited positive factors in its determination, including “strong financial practices and reserves, a diverse local economy centered on health care and manufacturing, and good financial management policies and practices.”
Areas of concern included relatively low property values and income levels and, as a result, a still-depressed tax base that necessitates levying at a high tax rate. The School Board offered some relief to taxpayers in October when it voted to hold the district’s tax levy flat. The School Board has also agreed for four consecutive years to forgo revenue tied to the Consumer Price Index, or CPI.
S&P also noted that half of the district’s operating funds come from State of Illinois sources, which are prone to delay and proration. RPS 205 administrators have recently visited Springfield to support balance and equity in education funding at the state level.