The state's public schools face increased fiscal strain but so far have offset this pressure with good management and a growing property tax base, according to a new report by Moody's Investors Service.
The general financial trend of school districts in California is not positive, but "the fact that they've kept their ratings intact is because Moody's looks at more than finances," Ronald L. Junker, the senior analyst who prepared the report, said last week.
Sophisticated management, an expanding property tax base, and the California economy have helped school districts avoid downgrades, Mr. Junker said, but he cautioned that deterioration in these factors could produce downgrades in the near future.
Moody's report on California schools updates a more extensive one issued last May. The new report analyzes the bankruptcy filing by Richmond Unified School District -- although Moody's does not rate Richmond -- and reviews the fiscal 1992 state budget and the California Board of Education's July report identifying 19 districts facing financial troubles.
"In order to address investor concerns, we have reviewed all of the districts identified in the state's memorandum," the report says. "In summary, our analysis did not result in any rating revisions."
Adoption of the fiscal 1992 state budget represented the most positive development for school districts in recent months, according to the report, because the state did not suspend Proposition 98, which guarantees minimum funding levels for primary and secondary schools and community colleges.