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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades most enhanced ratings on Pennsylvania school districts by one notch; placed on review for further downgrade

10 Sep 2015

Action affects 181 enhanced school district ratings

NOTE: On October 07, 2015, the press release was updated as follows: The list of credit ratings affected by this action has been revised to remove certain bonds that were previously subject to early redemption. These bonds, whose ratings have been withdrawn, are shown as crossed out on the revised list. In addition, the list has been revised to cross out underlying ratings and outlooks for certain bonds to which they do not apply. The list of affected post-default credit ratings has also been corrected to include Bellefonte Area School District's General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2012 and Dubois Area School District's General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2009A. As a result of these changes, the number of post-default enhanced ratings downgraded to A3 from A2 has been revised to 149. Moody's has also corrected the number of pre-default rating downgrades to 14 from 13. This is inclusive of the removal of Bellefonte Area School District's General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2012 that is now listed under the post-default program. In the REGULATORY DISCLOSURES section, the following has been added: "The person who approved the Pennsylvania School District Fiscal Agent Agreement Intercept Program (Section 633) & Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority Current Year Intercept Program and Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority Lease Intercept Program Issuer level ratings is Timothy Blake, Managing Director, Public Finance Group, Journalists Tel: 212-553-0367, Subscribers Tel: 212-553-1653." Revised release follows.

New York, September 10, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the enhanced ratings on most school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Aa3 stable) by one notch, and placed them on review for further downgrade.

For districts enhanced by the commonwealth's pre-default intercept programs, Moody's has downgraded the programmatic rating to A2 from A1, and placed the programmatic rating on review for downgrade. This action affects the State Public School Building Authority Lease Revenue Intercept Program (Sec. 785) and the Pennsylvania School District Fiscal Agent Agreement Intercept Program (Sec. 633). As a result, we have downgraded 14 pre-default ratings on Pennsylvania school districts to A2 from A1. Each of these ratings is on review for downgrade, as is the pre-default rating on the Penn Hills School District (pre-default enhanced rating Baa1).

For districts enhanced by the commonwealth's post-default intercept program, Moody's has lowered the cap, or highest rating districts can receive due to the post-default enhancement, to A3 from A2. This cap is also on review for downgrade. As a result, Moody's has downgraded 149 post-default enhanced ratings to A3 from A2. Each of these ratings is on review for downgrade. There are 11 post-default ratings previously rated A3 or lower (because of lower underlying ratings); we do not downgrade these ratings with this action, though they all are on review for downgrade.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

Please click on the following link to access the full list of affected credit ratings. This list is an integral part of this press release and identifies each affected issuer: http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBM_PBM184242

The downgrade of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's school district intercept ratings is a consequence of the commonwealth's chronically late budgets and the lack of clarity surrounding its ability to honor intercept obligations in the absence of an approved and implemented budget. While we expect the commonwealth to cover any missed debt service payments on enhanced bonds, the current lengthy budget impasse has heightened risks to bondholders.

The downgrade of the pre-default programmatic rating on the State Public School Building Authority Lease Revenue Intercept Program (Sec. 785), the State Public School Building Authority Current Year Intercept Program and the Pennsylvania School District Fiscal Agent Agreement Intercept Program (Sec. 633) to A2 from A1 incorporates the lack of absolute certainty that the commonwealth would appropriate funds to school districts in time to cover missed debt service payments on a timely basis.

The lowering of the cap on school district bonds enhanced on a post-default basis (Pennsylvania Act 150 School District Intercept Program) to A3 from A2 also reflects the increased risks to bondholders given state budget delays, as well as competing claims for state aid from pre-default obligations, pensions, and charter school tuition.

The intercept-enhanced ratings for individual financings reflect Moody's assessment of credit risk pursuant to our methodology, "State Aid Intercept Programs and Financings: Pre and Post Default." Credit considerations include availability of funds, timing of state aid payments, state aid trend, strength of notification requirement, and timing between notification and intercept. Additional credit factors include a debt service coverage ratio and, for post-default structures, the underlying rating of the individual school districts.

OUTLOOK

The review for downgrade reflects the uncertainty regarding the amount and availability of state aid for debt service obligations given the commonwealth's prolonged budget stalemate, and the associated risks posed to school districts, particularly those highly dependent on state aid for operations and with limited operating flexibility to offset delays in budgetary appropriations.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO UP

- Stronger demonstrated track record of timely budget adoption and school appropriation funding

- Establishment of a clearer plan for provision of payments in the absence of a budget

- Upgrade of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's rating

- Upgrade of underlying ratings (applies to post-default enhanced ratings)

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN

- Failure to make debt service payments or appropriate school aid to allow issuers to make timely payments

- Downgrade of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's rating

- Further delays in budget approval which hinder school districts' ability to pay debt service and meet other obligations

- Downgrade of underlying ratings (applies to post-default enhanced ratings)

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was State Aid Intercept Programs and Financings: Pre and Post Default published in July 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

The person who approved the Pennsylvania School District Fiscal Agent Agreement Intercept Program (Section 633) & Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority Current Year Intercept Program and Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority Lease Intercept Program Issuer level ratings is Timothy Blake, Managing Director, Public Finance Group, Journalists Tel: 212-553-0376, Subscribers Tel: 212-553-1653.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Dan Seymour
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Public Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Kristina Vaccaro
Associate Analyst
Public Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Orlie Prince
Senior Vice President
Public Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653
Moody's downgrades most enhanced ratings on Pennsylvania school districts by one notch; placed on review for further downgrade

No Related Data.
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