Moody’s reinstates DeKalb Schools’ credit rating

DeKalb County School District headquarters in Stone Mountain. (AJC FILE PHOTO)
DeKalb County School District headquarters in Stone Mountain. (AJC FILE PHOTO)

Moody’s Investors Service has reinstated its credit rating for the DeKalb County Schools, the district said in a news release on Tuesday. ’

Moody’s assigned an Aa3 rating to DeKalb County Schools. That’s the company’s fourth highest rating, and it shows an agency’s obligations are "of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk,” according to Moody’s.

The school district lost its credit rating in March amid a review of its failure to submit annual audits dating back to 2018.

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The district missed the audit submission deadline for the 2018 fiscal year due to “administrative issues,” according to the school system.

However, the district’s completed audits for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 were released in October, and the school system said the reports showed “a clean, unmodified opinion on the District’s financial activities.”

DeKalb Schools Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said in a statement that the district is “thrilled” with the positive credit rating. She also lauded “the dedication and efforts taken by staff to make this happen.”

“This is the first step in the DeKalb County School District moving onward and upward,” her statement said.

Moody’s decision to withdraw the DeKalb school system’s credit rating raised concerns because the district is seeking funding for construction and other projects. These ratings impact an agency’s ability to obtain funding.

But DeKalb Schools said the change in March 2020 did not impact the school system’s financial operations or any bonds that have been issued by the district. The district’s rating from Standard & Poor’s was not impacted either.

DeKalb County Board of Education Chair Marshall Orson said in the statement that the board and the administration are committed to maintaining and improving “the fiscal integrity of the District.”

“We are pleased that Moody’s has restored our credit rating and that the rating assigned demonstrates confidence in the District’s financial management and oversight,” Orson said in a statement.

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