2016-06-10 / Schools

District bonds receive top rating

Fitch Ratings has assigned an AAA rating to Simi Valley Unified School District’s latest refinancing bonds.

The AAA rating is Fitch’s highest credit rating, and it is also the highest rating ever assigned to bonds issued by the local district.

The district secured special legal opinions to obtain the AAA rating from Fitch, making it one of the first school districts in California to secure such a rating.

The district also received an improved status from Moody’s, which upgraded SVUSD’s general obligation bonds to an Aa3 rating, affirming the district’s improved financial position and strong community profile.

Moody’s said the rating upgrade “reflects the district’s dramatically improved financial performance supported by new board members and management team who have executed on a commitment to restore budgetary balance.”

The district anticipates pricing about $75 million in bonds this month. The purpose of the bond refinancing is to reduce the interest costs on existing bonds. The Simi Valley school board authorized the bond refinancing in May.

“Nearly four years ago, SVUSD submitted a budget that predicted we would be insolvent by 2015; our schools faced a very real threat of state takeover. Our financial condition today has dramatically improved,” said school board member Dan White.

“We have a completely new management team who has executed a massive turnaround,” White said. “The best part of this turnaround is that we were able to restore fiscal integrity while simultaneously delivering more resources to classrooms and improving conditions for our teachers.

“The district has maintained a balanced budget while rolling out several new technologies, eliminating furlough days and teacher layoffs, and giving the teachers the largest raise they have had in more than 10 years,” he said.

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