DASD Earns Aaa ratings from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s
Only PA School District to earn this recognition
The Downingtown Area School District has received the highest bond rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investment Service. DASD is the only district in Pennsylvania and one of only 21 in the nation to have received the AAA designation from both credit agencies.
Moody’s Investor’s Service and Standard and Poor’s are the two largest rating agencies sharing roughly 80% of this market. According to Standard & Poor’s, a school district rated AAA has an extremely strong capacity to meet its financial commitment on an obligation. Districts rated Aaa by Moody’s are judged to “be of the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk”.
“This is a significant accomplishment for our district,” said Dr. Lawrence Mussoline, Superintendent of the Downingtown Area School District. “The current sound financial status of the district is a credit to CFO Rich Fazio and our Board of School directors both past and present. They have created a model for municipal budgeting practices. These ratings are indicators that our collaborative Board and administrative Finance team have been providing sound and prudent financial guidance for Downingtown taxpayers in the areas of budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting, accounting, and financial management for a long time.”
These credit ratings represent the credit worthiness of the district and the likelihood that a debt can be repaid. An evaluation of public school districts in the United States reveals that only 0.50% hold a Standard and Poor’s AAA credit rating. It is even more difficult for public school districts to achieve an AAA rating because of limited diversity in General Fund revenue streams and limited flexibility to cut or trim mandated state and federal programs.
“The triple A rating from both agencies is a strong testament of our Board of Education’s long record of fiscal accountability,” said Richard Fazio, Downingtown’s CFO. “It is rewarding to know that our taxpayers will benefit directly with higher home values as a result of DASD being well positioned financially. We have gone four years without a tax increase and we hope to make it five. I could not be more pleased that our careful stewardship of public funds has been recognized nationally by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s”.
Both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s cited the stable and affluent residential economy, with access to Philadelphia, a very diverse and growing tax base with extremely strong property wealth, strong financial management practices supported by conservative budgeting practices which resulted in strong reserves; and rapid amortization and moderate overall debt burden, coupled with limited borrowing needs as all reasons for their AAA rating.
Earlier this year DASD was also awarded Meritorious Budget Award by the National Association of School Business Officials. This award school districts that utilize the best practices in budgeting to improve accuracy, transparency, sound fiscal management and communication to build district stakeholder confidence in each district’s finance office. The application consists of four sections, which require eight years’ worth of data. This process breaks down the budgeting process for taxpayers and clearly shows how district resources were spent. The MBA process also helps districts align their mission statements, strategic plans and operations together within the budget.