PD Hours Procedure

Smithfield Public Schools

Internal Procedure


Updated: September 2017


Smithfield Public Schools believes professional development should provide quality continuing education for all staff as a driving force toward staff and student growth. Professional development should be connected to school and district improvement plans and be relevant to staff needs. Most importantly, it should contribute to professional improvements that affect the quality of students’ educational experiences.

In order to personalize professional development for members of the NEA Smithfield, language in the 2017-2020 contract includes 5.5 hours of district-approved PD that can be completed by each educator through a variety of means. These internal procedures provide guidance for approving professional development and documenting hours.

This procedure is new to the 2017-2018 school year and may require changes to best meet the needs of both administration and individual educators. Feedback about the process will be collected from faculty and administration at least twice during the school year to inform how the approval and documentation of PD hours will occur in the future.

Contract Language

[Article VI] ...Teachers shall submit verification of completion of the remaining 5.5 hours of district-approved PD to the principal no later than May 15th.

Upon verification of completion of 16.5 hours of district-approved professional development activities, teachers will be compensated $250 per 5.5 hours no later than June 30th.

Sanctioned Professional Development

There may be a variety of activities that can be classified as professional development and it is plausible that no two individuals will agree on what constitutes professional development. For example, educators learn much from curriculum development but whether or not curriculum development time can be considered professional development for the purpose of Article VI is subject to opinion. For this reason, these procedures will attempt to clarify the types of professional activities that can be district-approved. In no way, however, should these guidelines be interpreted by individual educators to directly approve any PD activity. It is still necessary to actively seek district-approval for professional development activities even if such activities appear to meet the description of a sanctioned activity that is provided in these procedures. A process for approval is included in these guidelines.

For the purpose of Article VI, professional development is not:

  • Serving as a mentor for a new teacher. Compensation is provided separately for this role.

  • Participating in meetings, trainings, workshops or conferences during regular school days. Educators are already compensated for this time.

  • Simply completing the steps toward a PGG.

  • Participating in curriculum development teams. Educators are compensated for work on curriculum development teams.

  • Coursework for which the educator receives college credit towards a doctoral degree. The accumulation of college credit contributes toward movement on the salary scale.

  • Webinars may or may not be approved depending upon the level of engagement required, applicability to one’s role, and proof of time spent.

  • Time spent reading a professional text on one’s own. Although professional reading is commendable, unless this work is done collaboratively, there is less of a chance for a significant impact on either professional practice or student outcomes.

Examples of activities that may be approved:

  • Members of the 4th grade team, in response to what they perceive as a lack of engagement by students, conduct a book study using the text, Total Participation Techniques. Members read the book on their own and meet for one hour 3 times - once after each major part of the text. During their meeting they choose specific techniques to try out in their classrooms and share their success at the subsequent meeting. During a final one-hour meeting, the group documents what worked well and shares this document with the rest of the staff at the next regularly scheduled faculty meeting. [4 hours]

  • The high school chemistry teacher joins the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers and attends their fall meeting, which is held from 9am to 11am on a Saturday in November. The topic of the meeting, writing in science, is an area this teacher believes is important for his practice and for the success of his students. [2 hours]

  • A preschool teacher is a member of the RIDE taskforce to study universal preschool for Rhode Island. The meetings take place the first Tuesday of the month, from 4pm to 6pm. During these times, experts on early childhood education present relevant information to the group to assist in their formulation of a recommendation to the Board of Education. The members of the group are not compensated and the teacher attends 5 out of the 6 scheduled meetings, for a total of 10 hours. [5.5 hours, the maximum number of individual PD hours]

It will be the responsibility of the Principals to recommend approval of professional development to the Assistant Superintendent who will then maintain the listing of district-approved professional development. Some activities on this list will be organized by the district and others will be those that were proposed by educators and approved individually.

It is important to note that some activities may be approved for one individual but not for another due to the nature of their assignment in the district. For example, if there are two Smithfield educators serving on the RIDE taskforce above and one is serving as a preschool teacher while the other is representing preschool parents but teaches middle school students, the first can be approved while the second will not.

Additionally, if teachers are paid to attend or to present a workshop or training, these hours cannot also be applied to their 5.5 hour PD time.

The most important questions that will be considered during the approval process are:

How will this activity improve the educator’s teaching practices?


How will this learning improve the learning experiences of our students?

Approval Process

A Google form will be made available to district staff for approval of PD hours. This form will include:

  • Teacher’s name

  • Assignment

  • Certificates

  • Activity description, location, number of hours, sponsoring body, names of other participants

  • Rationale - answering the questions posed above.

At least 2 weeks prior to the initiation of the activity, the form will be completed by the educator then accessed by the Principal or designee who will approve or deny via email. If approved, the activity will be added to the list of district-approved professional development by the Assistant Superintendent, who will oversee the entire process to ensure that approvals are handled consistently.

Note that any activity requiring district funds is subject to funding approval. Also, the district is not responsible for the costs of workshops, conferences and trainings, regardless if they are approved as PD hours. District funds may be made available for educators to attend specific trainings when they are aligned to district goals and when such funds are within the budget.


On or before May 15th, individual educators shall complete a PD documentation Google form and will upload documentation/evidence showing participation in the approved activity. Documentation may include any of the following:

  • Conference or workshop certificates

  • Signed attestations that include the activity name, description, number of hours, and role of the signatory.