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Stephens County School District, GA GO Rating Raised To ‘A-‘ On Strong Budgetary Performance; Outlook Stable

          CENTENNIAL (S&P Global Ratings) Feb. 14, 2018--S&P Global Ratings removed its ratings on Stephens County School District, Ga.'s outstanding general obligation (GO) debt from CreditWatch with negative implications, where they had been placed on Nov. 15, 2017. 
          At the same time, S&P Global Ratings raised its underlying rating to 'A-' from 'BBB+' and affirmed its 'AA+' program rating on the debt. The outlook is stable. 
          The rating actions follow the receipt of the district's fiscal 2016 audit and our review of the district's general creditworthiness. 
          "The upgrade of the underlying rating reflects our view of the district's strong budgetary performance since fiscal 2015, which lead to growth in the district's available fund balance and enhanced its budgetary flexibility," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Chase Ashworth. 
          The underlying rating reflects our opinion of the district's general creditworthiness. The program rating reflects our view of the district's participation in the Georgia State Aid Intercept Program, a voluntary program that allows the state to guarantee repayment of a local school district's GO bonds. 
          Debt service payments on the series 2008 bonds are secured by the district's full faith and credit, including its ability to levy ad valorem property taxes without limitation as to rate or amount. Proceeds of a 1% education special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) will first be used to pay principal and interest on the bonds. Should such revenue be insufficient, the bonds are payable from the district's unlimited taxing authority, which we view as the stronger pledge.