FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Schools recently earned the highest credit rating possible offered by Moody’s Investors Service.
Moody’s ratings are, “forward-looking opinions of the relative credit risks of financial obligations,” according to its website. High credit ratings allow governments to borrow money at low rates to finance major projects.
Forsyth schools’ general obligation debt was upgraded from Aa1to Aaa, the highest possible rating. Moody’s scale describes the Aaa rating as, “judged to be of the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk.”
The upgrade from Moody’s affects $410.3 million unlimited general obligation bonds and $24.9 million limited general obligation bonds.
The district was one of 77 in the country to receive Moody’s highest rating. Three school districts in Georgia — Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton — also have the Aaa rating.
Forsyth County Schools has the second highest Standard & Poor’s rating in Georgia, and the highest Financial Efficiency Rating, of 5 stars, from the Georgia Department of Education.
“The Board of Education has been working diligently toward having its credit ratings with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s increased to the highest available rating,” said Rick Gunn, Forsyth County Schools chief financial officer. “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 life time of a bond issue.”
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, or SPLOST, proceeds to cover a significant portion of debt service.”
Moody’s listed Forsyth County School’s credit strengths to include:
Large, diverse tax base with above-average socioeconomic factors
Sound reserve position despite recent deficits
Demonstrated managements’ willingness to maintain fiscal balance