Proviso Township High Schools District 209 recently received an upgraded bond rating from Standard & Poor, district officials announced in a statement released Aug. 3. The district's bond rating rose from A to A+.
In the statement, district officials described the bond upgrade as the "culmination of strong, disciplined fiscal management over several years designed to lead the district out of the poor financial situation inherited from past years of poorly executed fiscal management."
Officials explained that the credit upgrade was due to six consecutive years of surpluses in the district's general fund, the fact that the district has "raised combined available reserves to $42 million, or a very strong 47.2 [percent] of operating expenditures," plus growth in the property tax base and a moderate debt load.
According to a report produced by Standard & Poor's, the district "benefits from strong management that adheres to fiscal policies, multi-year budgeting, and long-term capital planning."
The credit rating agency pointed out that the district still has a state oversight panel that oversees its budgeting. That panel requires the district "to have multiple funding options."
In the district's statement, Amanda Grant, a D209 board member and chair of the board's Finance Committee, said she was "thrilled" with the new rating, adding that it reflects the committee's "hard work and dedication."
With the last two years, the district has started the process of refinancing $24 million in outstanding bonds that financial experts said could lead to more savings and a better credit rating. The district has also started to fund long-term facility needs, such as the renovation of the indoor track at Proviso West.
Craig Schilling, chair of the Financial Oversight Panel, said the A bond rating "will not only save taxpayers money but make more funds available for needed capital improvements."
Schilling added that the "biggest beneficiaries to the increase in the district's bond rating are the students."
Ned Wagner, D209 board president, said he was "proud of the excellent work being produced by the superintendent and the Board of Education on behalf of the students and families of Proviso Township."
D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez explained that the credit upgrade should "result in lower costs when accessing the capital markets, which is part of our future work as a school district. Our fiscal house is in order, and we will continue our strategic vision that got us here and embrace the work of our financial advisers to continue in our quest for excellence."