Wood Schools receives historic bond rating of ‘Aa3’ from Moody’s Investor Service


PARKERSBURG - The Wood County Board of Education will meet in special session at the Wood County Schools Central Office on November 14th to award the sale of its $60,850,000 Public School Bonds, Series 2023 for county-wide construction and renovation school projects.


The board previously met on October 24th to approve moving forward with the marketing of the bonds for a two week period leading up to the sale date of the bonds.


Wood County voters approved the $60,850,000 bond call in May of 2022. The bonds will allow the building of three new elementary schools, auditorium renovations at Parkersburg and Parkersburg South high schools, and significant improvements to county athletic facilities. The bond projects also include security and safety improvements throughout Wood County.


The sale of the bonds is contingent upon the interest rate on the bonds not being more than 4.50% as per the bond call approved by Wood County voters. Current interest rates are near the 4.50% maximum rate, officials said. If interest rate bids received on the sale date are over the maximum rate, the sale of the bonds would be delayed until market conditions provide for a more favorable rate.


Officials are optimistic the bond sale will be successful in part due to favorable bond ratings from two national rating agencies.


Moody’s Investors Service assigned a rating of ‘Aa3’ to the school system and the public school bonds to be issued. In addition, the school system received a ‘Aa-’ long-term rating from Standard and Poor’s Rating Service based on its participation in the West Virginia Municipal Bond Commission Program, a rating West Virginia public school bonds have traditionally been assigned.


Wood County Schools is one of only three West Virginia school systems to receive the ‘Aa3’ bond rating from Moody’s.


Joe Nassif, Municipal Advisor and managing director at Piper Sandler, said the bond rating will open up the sale of the bonds to a larger number of bidders and give investors additional confidence in the bonds.


“We’re very excited about the Moody’s rating that was assigned to the bonds,” Nassif told the board during the Oct. 24 presentation. “It now sets a roadmap and path for us to move forward to with the sale of the bonds.”


Nassif credited the “amazing work and superior presentation” by Superintendent Christie Willis, Wood County Schools staff, and the school board with garnering the high rating.


“We believe that ‘Aa3’ Moody’s rating is going to positively impact the interest in the bond sale,” Nassif said. It also could result in lower interest rates and potential savings for taxpayers, he said.


“It gives us a good opportunity to stay under that 4.50% interest rate cap,” Nassif said.


An offering document was made available to potential bond investors last week. The board will meet in special session at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, to receive the results. If the sale completes as planned on November 14th, the school system would receive proceeds of the bonds, in full, on December 5th and begin projects after the first of the year.