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Moody's boosts Haverford public-school credit rating

Surplus boosts bonds a notch

After three years of "improving" finances at Haverford Township School District, Moody's Investors Service has boosted the district's credit rating to Aa3 from A1, just in time for two pending bond issues totalling $18.6 million,

The boost partly reverses a two notch Moody's downgrade in January 2012, when the agency warned Haverford had collected too much: budget deficit; debt; and risky interest-rate swaps.

Haverford has since showed "growth in fund balance and cash reserves" as managers and the school board are no longer spending more than they collect from property taxpayers and other income, Moody's reports. The debt is still "above average," and the township's share of Pennsylvania's underfunded school employee pension obligations are still a fiscal threat. But Haverford is "stable and affluent," so Moody's isn't so worried it will stiff its bondholders.

Plus, Pennsylvania has promised to take taxpayer aid away from districts and give it to bond investors if the school district doesn't raise enough taxes. That sort of thing gives bond-buyers confidence.