Opinion

Palzet: Great financial stewardship leads to bond rating upgrade

Community Voice

Published:
Dave Palzet is superintendent of Pleasantdale School District 107.[]

Over the course of the past three years, we have talked about how the Pleasantdale School District 107 Board of Education has been responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Our district boasts the lowest tax rate in Lyons Township and has returned more than $7 million to taxpayers through bond abatements. These financial decisions have been made while also producing excellent academic results for the community. The Board of Education is constantly keeping a watchful eye on our financial situation as it looks for ways to keep dollars in the taxpayer’s pocket while continuing to provide exceptional outcomes for children.

Each year, the district creates a budget based on the district’s educational priorities. It then levies the least amount possible to fund these priorities. The district also works to trim wasteful spending and save money on everything from energy costs to purchased services. The board also understands that the district’s credit rating can impact the overall cost to the taxpayer. Just as is the case with our personal credit rating, a school district’s bond rating can impact the cost of borrowing money. The lower your rating, the higher the cost of borrowing. Also, the bond rating (similar to a credit rating) is an indicator of overall financial health.

It is because of the board’s sound financial management that the district’s bond rating has been upgraded from Aa2 to Aa1. While we often hear about school districts' ratings being downgraded, we rarely hear when a district is able to upgrade its ratings – these upgrades occur so infrequently. The board has held the administration accountable to cut costs while increasing services, and we have responded.

When provided feedback about the new rating, we were told one of the reasons we were not able to obtain the highest rating of AAA was because of the financial disarray of the state of Illinois. With political infighting that often puts schools in the middle, a looming property tax freeze and changes to the school funding formula, the rating agency didn’t have the confidence in our state system to move our district past an Aa1 rating. While these are justified concerns, they cannot be addressed by our Board of Education.

As the Pleasantdale School District 107 board looks to provide the community with the best education experience at an excellent price, it will continue to find ways to “tighten the belt” and make great decisions on behalf of our community. Our improved bond rating is just one example of the positive outcomes that result from great leadership.

Dave Palzet is superintendent of Pleasantdale School District 107.