Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it raised to AA-minus from A-plus its school issuer credit rating on Bulloch County School District, Ga.'s general obligation bonds.

At the same time, Standard & Poor's assigned its AA-minus ICR and stable outlook to the district's series 2012A and 2012B GO sales tax bonds and series 2012C GO refunding bonds.

"The upgrade reflects our view of the district's consistently favorable financial performance that has yielded higher reserve and liquidity levels despite revenue pressures since the recession," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Andrew Teras.

The rating also reflects Standard & Poor's view of the district's: stable economy with a history of steady digest growth, though the tax base has contracted in the past few years; pro-active budget management and further improvement in formalized financial policies and procedures; and low overall debt burden with moderate debt service carrying charges and a rapid principal amortization schedule.

The county's elevated unemployment rate is an offsetting rating factor.

Bulloch County School District is approximately 60 miles northwest of Savannah and 75 miles south of Augusta and is coterminous with the county's territorial boundaries. The county's total population is roughly 70,000, a 4% increase from 2010 and a 30% increase from 2000.

Population growth has slowed since onset of the economic downturn but we expect modest growth over the next few years. Population growth has translated into a 1.7% average annual increase in the school district's enrollment in the past five years.

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