Brevard Public Schools Earns ‘Healthy’ Credit Rating By Moody’s Investor’s Service, Debt Drops

By  //  February 14, 2018

BPS debt reduces from $512.1 Million (2012) to $446.7 Million (2016)

Brevard Public Schools has reached a tentative contract settlement with the union that represents 3,111 support-staff employees including clerks, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, mechanics and instructional assistants.

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Brevard Public Schools has earned a solid credit rating from Moody’s Investor’s Service, which cited the district’s healthy finances and declining debt.

“The district’s financial position is healthy overall,” the rating service says in new annual report. “The credit position also reflects a manageable debt burden and a moderate pension liability.”

Moody’s Aa2 bond rating is the third-best it awards to governments and slightly above the national median for school districts.

Dr. Desmond Blackburn

“This evaluation by Moody’s is an affirmation that our board’s fiscally responsible policies are leading Brevard Public Schools in the right direction,” said BPS Superintendent Desmond Blackburn.

“It shows that looking inward for money for new initiatives while being disciplined to maintain a healthy reserve has kept us on solid footing in the eyes of the professionals who evaluate governments. And it is a further sign of how the voter-approved sales surtax for school repairs and security has stabilized BPS’ finances overall.”

Other strengths for Brevard include a “very healthy economy and tax base,” Moody’s says.

The positive bond and credit rating matters to BPS even though the school board has committed to a long-term plan for school construction that calls for no new borrowing or new types of taxes.

The credit rating could save the district on other costs such as banking fees or refinancing debt, said BPS Chief Financial Officer Pennie Zuercher.

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Much of Brevard Public Schools’ existing debt stems from construction and expansion of schools during a development boom on the Space Coast in the early 2000s.

BPS has slowly but steadily reduced that debt from $512.1 million in 2012 to $446.7 million in 2016. According to Moody’s, the district’s debt as a percentage of its “full value” (the value of all its assets) is 0.8 percent, lower than the national median for school districts.

Future schools planned for Viera and West Melbourne will be built with impact fees on new development in those areas, according to BPS’ five-year capital plan.

“I’m excited to see Moody’s confirmation of the great work being done to manage the district’s financial position,” said BPS Chief Financial Officer Pennie Zuercher.

“The Finance team — with the support of the school board, superintendent, and cabinet — have worked hard to help place the district in a positive financial position that is recognized by external analysts.”