Middletown Schools’ finances earn top marks. Here’s what that means for future projects.

Middletown is nearing completion of a $96 million construction project, which is the largest in the school system’s history.

While its academic measures of recent years have been lagging, Middletown City Schools has earned top marks when it comes to the financial state of the district.

Middletown school officials announced Tuesday the district’s Standard and Poors (S&P) credit rating has improved from “A-” to “A.”

Randy Bertram, treasurer for the Butler County city school system, said the higher rating reflects the district’s strong general fund performance.

“Our district’s credit rating increase is important in that it shows our stakeholders we are improving our financial condition and strength while becoming more stable and reliable for our creditors and vendors. This is much like a personal credit rating in that the higher your rating, the better your credit worthiness,” said Bertram.

He said the district’s general fund performance is strong, considering Middletown Schools took a negative fund balance in 2015 and now has $14.6 million of available reserves, or 22 percent of operating expenses.

Bertram said the S&P considers the district’s available fund balance of $14.6 million very strong.

The annual operating fund for the 6,600-student Middletown Schools is $75 million.

Middletown is nearing completion of a $96 million construction project, which is the largest in the school system’s history.

The project will be done by August and will mean a new middle school and a renovated and expanded Middletown High School adjacent to the new school.

In its report, S&P said the ‘A’ rating is based on participation in the broad and diverse Cincinnati-Middletown and Dayton metropolitan statistical areas; adequate income levels and adequate market value per capita; very strong reserves as of the last 2017 audit on a generally accepted accounting principles basis after being in a negative position just two years ago with overall moderate debt burden, he said.

The district tax base is currently valued at $2 billion and it is expected to increase by 4.85 percent, said Bertram. Further, Middletown’s NTE Energy natural gas-fueled power plant opened this month and it will add to Middletown’s tax base.

According to district officials, the average unemployment rate for Butler County for 2017 was 4.4 percent, which is slightly lower than the 5 percent rate for Ohio and on par with the national rate. The median household effective buying income in the district is 74 percent of the national average.

“An improved credit rating will also allow the district, when needed, to borrow funds or issue bonds at a cheaper rate thus saving our taxpayers money in borrowing costs,” said Bertram.

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