WPS Business Administrator Susan Bottan discusses school finance

Nandita Subbiah

There are many financial aspects of a school system such as payment for buses, salaries for faculty and school supplies. The person in charge of keeping track of the budgeting for Wayland Public Schools is business administrator Susan Bottan.

“As the school business administrator, I oversee all of the finance and budgeting aspects of our district, and I work closely with the town finance offices,” Bottan said. “I also work closely with human resources and operations offices.”

Bottan has been business administrator for two years. Before working in Wayland, Bottan was the business administrator in Lowell, Marlborough, Lincoln and Lexington, for a total of ten years. Prior to working as a business administrator, she was a kindergarten teacher at Children’s Village, a private school in Cambridge, for one year.

“I spent some time teaching in a classroom. I was very interested in not only the educational aspects of teaching but also the business and operational side of running a school,” Bottan said.

After working as a kindergarten teacher, Bottan worked in business, finance and marketing for seven years. She then earned a master’s degree in education from Wheelock College in 1990 and then worked for Bright Horizons, a private educational company for seven years. She then earned a master of business administration from Simmons College in 1998. She had previously earned a bachelor of science in education from Lesley University in 1982.

After earning her MBA, Bottan decided that she wanted to work in a public school setting, which led her to being a school business administrator.

“The idea of working in public education focused on business and finance really appealed to me,” Bottan said.

“[I work] on the development of budgets. That involves not only analyzing where we currently are, where we need to be in the future, but also looking at student performance data, utility costs and projections and contracts,” Bottan said. “[We look at] all sorts of factors to establish how much these services will cost for the next year and a few years out and share that information with our elected officials and then go through a process to [help them] discuss and evaluate and make decisions about the dollars.”

As part of her job, Bottan works with administrators and faculty members concerning the resources needed in the schools. She also meets with Superintendent Paul Stein who proposes the budget, and the School Committee, which approves the budget.

Bottan also aims to put all of the student activity accounting online. This would allow students and their families to pay for all student activities online and not have to bring in cash or checks. According to Bottan, this would make the system more efficient for families and staff and streamline some operations.

“We’re so mindful of how our resources are spent, and that is not only the actual dollars to pay for items, but the dollars that are spent to pay for time. If we can make our staff’s time more productive, we’re able to divert some of their time to the areas that are most important: working with students, supporting students, not worrying about calculating financial data,” Bottan said.

Bottan hopes that this project will be done by June.

“[We’re trying to allocate our resources] as deliberately, as effectively and as efficiently as possible…to ensure that every student has access to the best,” Bottan said.