LOS ANGELES — Nevada’s Clark County School District received a one-notch downgrade on its bonds from Fitch Ratings on Tuesday, putting about $3.8 billion of debt into single-A territory.
Fitch dropped $3.8 billion of limited-tax general obligation bonds from the nation’s fifth-largest school district to A-plus from AA-minus.
Following the downgrade, Fitch revised the district’s outlook to stable from negative. It also assigned the A-plus rating to the district’s $193.7 million of Series 2012A and $8.5 million of Series 2012B limited-tax GOs.
The downgrade reflects the CCSD’s reduced financial flexibility as the district responded to state and local revenue declines with significant cuts and reserve drawdowns, Fitch analysts said.
Although the district had been successful in negotiating labor concessions, it has resulted in a strained relationship, according to the report. Teaching positions were reduced by 1,000 for fiscal 2013 to fund salary increases awarded to teachers’ unions as a result of arbitration.
Clark counted 308,377 students, or 72% of the state’s schoolchildren, within its boundaries, but that hasn’t helped it rise above the hit to its tax base caused by its extraordinarily hard-hit housing market.
The CCSD will likely be forced to either restructure debt or raise the tax rate above the level promised to voters in the 1998 bond authorization, Fitch said.
The massive school district serves Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite, as well as unincorporated areas of the county.