The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has maintained high bond ratings from two prominent rating agencies, enabling the district to proceed with the sale of the district’s first series of Measure “ES” bonds in the coming weeks.
The District received a bond rating of ‘Aa1’ and ‘AA’ from rating agencies, Moody’s Investor Service and Standard & Poor’s, respectively. Officials said the good ratings would help with the long-term success of the sale.
“Hopefully it means that our bonds are more attractive to the investment community,” said CBO Janece Maez “We’re excited about the good rating because it would mean lower interest rates to investors and therefore lower cost to the property owners who repay the bonds. It’s lower interest rates, lower costs and it makes sure the bonds are fully sold because they are a better investment with a better rating.”
Both ratings agencies cited the district’s solid finances, the strength of the local tax base and strong community support.
“Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s reaffirmed what Santa Monica-Malibu parents and our community already know: SMMUSD schools are a great investment,” said PTA Council President Rochelle Fanali in a statement. “Our students are fortunate to be supported by a community that is so strongly committed to their success. And, as our school district makes its spending plans for these bonds to improve classroom facilities, it’s great to know that strong community support also translates into real savings.”
District officials said the credit ratings put the District in the ranks of other impressive districts that hold these stellar ratings, such as the Beverly Hill USD, Newport-Mesa USD, and Palo Alto USD.
“The continuance of our excellent credit ratings is a testament to this district’s commitment to maintaining its fiscal strength, so we can best serve our students in the challenging economic environment,” said Superintendent Sandra Lyon in a statement.
Measure “ES” is a $385 million construction bond affirmed by the voters in November 2012, with focus on improving academic instruction, school safety, and technology of Santa Monica and Malibu schools. The first series will be for about $30 million and will help fund the planning and prioritization of other bond projects.
“There is a previous bond and there were a number of plans and designs that were done to upgrade our elementary sites, so those will be considered as we move forward. There’s also a great need identified at Santa Monica High School, so there will be projects most likely funded there,” said Maez.
She said part of the money would also go to pay for technology upgrades throughout the district such as wireless access points and new computers.
Maez said decisions about spending priorities would be made in conjunction with the community.
“There is an allocation within the bond that we will be prioritized by the district in collaboration with a group in the Malibu community. Typically what we do with our bonds is we have a lot of community input, we move forward to identity the actual projects that we’re going to do. Right now, there may be some of the planning money spent for both Malibu and for Samohi and the elementary sites here throughout the district.”

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