Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Sycamore schools rate AA-plus

District bonds tops in state, S&P reports

BY CHRISTINE WOLFF datel MONTGOMERY - A jump in its bond rating has pushed the Sycamore Community School District to the top among Ohio's school districts.
The Cincinnati Enquirer datel MONTGOMERY - A jump in its bond rating has pushed the Sycamore Community School District to the top among Ohio's school districts.

        Sycamore recently earned a rating of AA+ from Standard & Poor's Rating Services in New York City — up from AA and one notch below the best rating of AAA. Sycamore is the only Ohio school district to claim a AA+ rating, according to Standard & Poor's.

        The new rating — a measure of a district's financial standing and credit rating — means lower interest for the district on the sale of $45 million worth of bonds. Sycamore district residents ap proved a 2.39-mill bond issue in November. The money will be used for renovations to the district's seven schools.

        How much money will be saved because of the new rating hasn't been determined, said Beth Sholl, district treasurer. The 25-year bonds were sold March 17 at an average of about 5 percent interest, Ms. Sholl said.

        “We're trying to look at comparable sales that day to see what interest rates were,” she said.

        Sycamore's new rating tells buyers, “These are bonds that are backed by the most financially stable district in Ohio,” Ms. Sholl said. That makes them less risky to buyers, who then will accept a lower interest rate as a return, she added.

        “This was an upgrade we thought we should receive,” she said.

        Superintendent Bruce Armstrong said the new rating “is yet another example of what we're doing right at Sycamore.”

        “From every teacher and teacher aide to parent volunteers, bus drivers and building principals — this is, indeed, a collaborative community effort,” Mr. Armstrong said.

        The rating reflects the district's strong financial performance, noting the consis tent support the district gets from residents in approving tax increases, the district's above-average wealth indicators and diverse employment, and a debt load that is manageable, according to a report in Standard & Poor's CreditWeekMunicipal.

        The stable outlook is based on the expectation that the district will maintain exceptionally strong financial operations,” the report said.


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