County schools get A+ rating

Published 10:03 am Monday, March 4, 2013

With the sale of bonds planned for as soon as next week, an A-plus credit rating for the Escambia County Board of Education will be a financial blessing.

Superintendent Randall Little said rating issued by Standard & Poor’s last week is something the Board is proud to have earned.

“To have an A-plus credit rating is excellent, especially for a small, rural school system,” Little said. “This rating proves we are very stable and would be a good investment risk for anybody wanting to buy bonds.”

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The score was awarded last week after the Escambia County Board of Education sought and received a rating from the credit agency.

Randy Rushton, with the Frazer Lanier Company, assisted the board with the process of obtaining the rating and said the system received an honor along with the rating.

“The very strong, investment grade rating will allow the Board to access the bond and bank markets at lower rates than many other boards,” Rushton said. “The ‘stable’ outlook by Standard and Poor’s was earned by the fact that Escambia County Board of Education’s financial position has been very strong historically despite the national recession.”

Little said some of the credit for the excellent rating is due, in part, to previous administrators with the system.

“Buck Powell and Billy Hines are partially responsible for this rating,” Little said. “If it had not been for their stewardship and leadership it would not have been possible to earn this rating. Both made hard financial decisions and because of that, we are in a very favorable condition today.”

Little also gave praise to the business staff currently employed with the system for their part in keeping finances in order.

Ms. (Julie) Madden and her business staff have been excellent managers of the district’s money,” Little said. “The community has also helped by supporting this district with taxation and mileage rates that have enabled us to reach this point.”

Little said bonds will be sold to help finance projects for the system and the rates will help make more money available for those plans.

“We are in very a very stable position and a good investment risk for anybody who wants to buy bonds,” Little said. “The rating will allow us to benefit from a lower interest rate which will allow us to borrow more money at a lower rate and not have to pay so much back in interest.”

Rushton said reasons specifically cited for the positive rating were that the Board maintains a very strong financial position and has the numerous positive economic development activities, along with a diverse economic and employment base.

The rating came after members and staff of the Board presented information regarding financial management and assets to Standards & Poor officials.