Monroe schools, once under fiscal emergency, gets good news about financial health

From 2012 to 2014 Monroe Schools was one of only eight of Ohio s 613 school districts to be in rare, state-mandated fiscal emergency. But the growing school district recently learned the Moody’s Investors Service s bond raters have raised the school system s rating as having improving financial health. (File Photo/Journal-News)
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From 2012 to 2014 Monroe Schools was one of only eight of Ohio s 613 school districts to be in rare, state-mandated fiscal emergency. But the growing school district recently learned the Moody’s Investors Service s bond raters have raised the school system s rating as having improving financial health. (File Photo/Journal-News)

A Butler County school district once under state control for its insolvency has been told its financial recovery has progressed enough to earn a higher bond rating by a noted national firm.

From 2012 to 2014 Monroe Schools was one of only eight of Ohio’s 613 districts to be in rare, state-mandated “fiscal emergency.”

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But the growing school district, whose enrollment is now 2,800 students, has recently learned the Moody’s Investors Service’s bond raters have raised the school system’s rating as having improving financial health.

“We were alerted last week that Moody’s Investors Service upgraded out Bond Ratings from A1 to Aa3 and our Certificates of Participation from to A1 from A2,” said Holly Cahall, treasurer for the Monroe Schools.

Moody’s rating scale, which ranges from a maximum Aaa to a minimum C, consists of 21 ratings between those two grades.

Officials at Moody’s released a statement on their higher rating saying Monroe’s “upgrade to Aa3 reflects the district’s significantly improved financial position and positive enrollment trends. Also incorporated are a growing tax base with strong resident income levels.”

Monroe Schools have seen their enrollment rise from 1,800 students during the 2005-2006 school year to 2,800 this school year.

The uptick in student numbers mirrors the Monroe city’s rising population and business base in recent years for the community that straddles the Butler and Warren County line and is intersected north and south by Interstate 75.

Cahall said the improved bond rating makes any borrowing for a bond issue school officials my pursue cheaper by lowering the interest rates Monroe Schools will have to pay for the borrowed money.

“Our ratings mean that our bonds are considered to be high quality and subject to very low credit risk,” she said.

And if Monroe officials do eventually decide – as they have discussed – to ask taxpayers to approve a bond issue tax increase to build a new school to replace the aging Monroe Primary School, the better rating will mean a lower tax mileage for local taxpayers.

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Monroe school officials credit city taxpayers for their support in starting the district on the road to financial recovery by passing a new operating levy in 2012 and then replacing(CQ) it with another affirmative vote in 2016.

Without those school tax election victories, said Cahall, Monroe Schools’ financial status would not be nearly as highly rated as it is now by Moody’s.

“We had the faith and trust of the people,” she said. “And now we want to do everything we can to continue this progress.”

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