Education Lab

Moody’s rates Fresno Unified financial outlook as stable

Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson at a recent press conference.
Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson at a recent press conference.

Moody’s, a credit rating agency, recently gave Fresno Unified School District a positive financial rating, saying the district’s outlook remains stable.

The report said that the district’s $55 million in outstanding bond debt is being handled responsibility due to “management's prudent budgetary practices and financial policies.”

"We feel the district has a strong management team that will help to ensure a stable financial profile and the strong management of long-term obligations,” the report says.

Moody’s gave the district an Aa3 bond rating – the second highest rating category on the 9-point scale, which measures organizations’ ability to repay debts and the associated credit risks.

The district received the same rating in 2014.

However, the report criticizes the school district’s costly pension and post employment benefits. The district has an above average pension burden, and its liability associated with other post employment benefits is “exceptionally high,” according to the report.

“While these burdens remain large, policies and practices have been implemented to ensure that liabilities do not increase and should decline in the long-term,” the report says.

The report points out that district has continued to improve its financial state over the years. Fresno Unified was on the verge of bankrupty and a state takeover in 2004.

The district credits Superintendent Michael Hanson, who signed on in 2005, for turning the district’s financial problems around.

“Through the leadership of the board of education and the superintendent, the district regained its solid financial footing and has maintained a positive financial profile,” spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said Tuesday.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays