Mustang Public Schools has reached a new rank in the upper echelon of school finance with a second increase in the district’s bond rating in the last two years. Standard & Poor's, a nationally recognized credit rating organization, upgraded the district's bond rating from AA- negative to "AA- rating with a stable outlook” in 2016. After reviewing the district’s financial stability and economic outlook plan in the spring, Standard & Poor’s upgraded the bond rating in May to AA.
Zack Robinson, the district’s financial advisor through BOK Financial Securities, said the rating change will have a positive impact that will translate directly to taxpayers. Robinson said he believed there were only two school districts in Oklahoma that have a better rating than Mustang Public Schools after the upgrade.
“Your administration and your team always do an outstanding job of representing what’s happening here,” Robinson said. “As you know, Mustang Schools, like most other school districts, has not been immune to fiscal challenges, but over the last three or four years, Mustang has performed exceptionally well in the face of these challenges. While many school districts have struggled, Mustang Schools has been upgraded by S&P. That’s a significant accomplishment because it translates directly to taxpayer interest on the bonds that you have to pay back.”
Robinson estimated the interest rate on the district’s bonds has improved between 0.08 and 0.10 percent.
“This shows how strong the school district is at planning ahead and then following through on those plans,” he said. “This is a win for the taxpayers.”
Nancy McKay, chief financial officer for Mustang Public Schools, said the S&P review process includes examination of the district’s annual financial audit, an intense interview process and presentation not only of changes made to protect the fund balance, but revenue increases and saving measures as well.
McKay said the district has reduced the General Fund Expenditure Budget by more than $5 million since 2015. Measures taken include items like renegotiating contracts and maintenance agreements with vendors, leading to a savings of more than $1.5 million, and saving $316,000 on the worker’s compensation insurance premium by implementing a safety/training program and reducing on the job injuries. An energy management program and third party janitorial services at some sites saved the district another $600,000. Revenue was generated while the district provided a service to its parents with the creation of BroncoClub, an after-school and summer camp program.
“The upgrade in our Standard & Poor’s rating is an affirmation of the work done not only by the finance team, but by the entire district,” she said. “This accomplishment has taken buy-in and commitment from every employee. School districts in Oklahoma remain underfunded and a salary increase for our teachers and support staff has been long overdue. Through diligent planning, Mustang Public Schools has been able to not only sustain its fund balance but make it grow as well. I’m very proud of this district.”