Section 3.4 Professional Development
UMaine Extension funds a number of staff development activities. These activities include in-service trainings, such as training activities designed and delivered within the organization (the Staff Development Committee coordinates many of these) or within Extension regionally; and also those activities delivered outside the organization, which benefit the professional development of the staff member.
Extension makes available to each regularly employed base funded faculty member, professional and hourly staff member (including county support staff) a certain amount of money for discretionary use towards professional development goals. Use of these funds should provide professional/educational development to the individual in ways that will contribute to the benefit of the organization, and must be approved by the supervisor. A written request is expected from the employee, addressed to the supervisor and outlining the activity, the cost, the relation to the employee’s plan of work and what the anticipated benefit to the organization will be. A Staff Development Funds Request Form is used for this purpose. The supervisor is expected to encourage the employee to take advantage of this opportunity for professional development activities suitable to his/her needs.
- FSD funds are to be used by the employee in consultation with the program administrator or supervisor to improve their effectiveness on the job. The first criterion is whether the proposed expenditure will improve the employee’s effectiveness in his or her work for Cooperative Extension and that activity is educational in nature.
- A Flexible Staff Development (FSD) Funds Form must specify how the activity will be used in the delivery of a more effective Extension program or to benefit the professional development (rather than the personal development) of the employee. This form must be completed by the employee and approved by the supervisor before FSD funds can be spent.
- When more than one employee wishes to attend a training program for which Extension has made a commitment to send one person, a mix of organizational support and FSD funds can be used to send more than one employee. In this case, each employee shares the organizational funds available, and uses FSD funds to make up the remainder.
- The employee is encouraged to seek a cost effective approach to accomplishing their professional development needs. Supervisors may choose not to support the use of FSD funds when the professional development need could be accomplished in a more cost effective manner.
Currently the amount of FSD funds available to base funded faculty and professionals is $500, and $300 for hourly employees. These amounts are pro-rated for regular part-time employees in each employee classification. Out-of-state travel and overnight costs incurred are to be covered by the employees FSD account.
Here are some of the items that can and cannot be supported by FSD funds:
- equipment purchases are not to be supported by FSD funds, except in the case of the UMaine laptop initiative.
- course books can be purchased with FSD funds if the course relates to a person’s current job description. All books that are purchased using FSD funds become the property of UMaine Extension and the books are to be made available to other staff. These books must be left behind when the staff member leaves Extension.
- Magazine subscriptions are acceptable and every effort to share this resource is strongly encouraged.
- Professional dues or memberships may be supported by FSD funds if a membership results in the ability to secure a professional development resource (e.g. professional journal or newsletter) at a reduced cost.
- Faculty and professional staff may use their FSD funds to cover travel expenses incurred while carrying out activities approved as part of their sabbatical plan.
If you have questions about the new policy please contact, Fran Sulinski.
Additional Professional Development
There will be occasions where Extension will fund the professional development of a staff member in excess of the FSD funds available to them. This may occur when the training is necessary for the employee to carry out their job.
It is essential for those who obtain training at Extension expense to share the results within the organization. This may take the form of a seminar to discuss meetings attended or creating a study group to look at new techniques. A plan for sharing the results will be a major part of approving the opportunity.
The Extension Leadership Team encourages each staff member to take advantage of the opportunity for professional development.
It is the responsibility of each staff member, whether faculty, professional, community education assistant, support staff or administrator, to take responsibility for arranging with his or her supervisor the released time and coverage of responsibilities needed for participating in professional development opportunities. It is the responsibility of each supervisor to see that enough time and coverage are available to each staff member to encourage his/her professional growth.
Whether this takes the form of working together to create a plan to cover program responsibilities during a sabbatical year, or a plan to cover the telephone during an office day, a dialogue between staff member and supervisor needs to take place in an atmosphere of helpful supportiveness.
Attendance in staff development activities for less than part-time employees: The staff development committee proposed to pay hourly staff who are less than 50%-time to attend staff development activities (Extension workshops and organizational meetings). The Extension Leadership Team approved up to three days of additional pay per year for less than 50%-time classified employees who would like to attend a staff development activity.
This applies equally to professional development opportunities sponsored by Extension and those taking place outside the organization. Needs of the individual, colleagues, the office, the program, and the organization must be balanced and accounted for.
The ELT has revised how we support staff attending professional association conferences. Hereafter, the ELT will allocate $2,000 per association (NAE4HA, NAEFCS, NACAA) per year to attend the annual professional conference with an additional $1,500 for other requests such as the Extension Conference on Volunteerism and Master Gardener Conference. It will be up to each state association to determine how the $2,000 is allocated to faculty and staff wanting to attend the conference.