WINCHESTER — The Winchester School Board discussed a possible change to its code of conduct for board members during a retreat Thursday at Shenandoah University.

The School Board last adopted changes to its code of conduct on Aug. 28, 2017. The code of conduct was generally adopted from a version created by the Virginia School Board Association. The next time the code of conduct will be brought up will be during the board's work session on Sept. 9. 

Board members considered adding a new line to the existing 11-point code of conduct, although the exact wording has not been finalized yet. Overall, some members agreed that the new line should include that a board member make no individual "decisions," "commitments," or "comments" that might compromise the board or administration. 

When board members make promises it creates tension, Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said. 

Making the adjustment to the code of conduct would establish a "legacy" for the board should its members change via an election, said board members Karen Holman and Bryan Pearce-Gonzales. 

Winchester voters will decide in the Nov. 5 general election whether they want an elected or appointed School Board. The current city School Board is appointed by City Council. 

The code of conduct is a guidance document, not a contract, said School Board Chairwoman Allyson Pate. Members are asked to sign the document, but they are not required to do so, she said.

"Legacy is a fine word," Pate said. "The whole issue of the referendum coming up, that's not our issue."

Attending Thursday’s retreat at Shenandoah University in Davis Hall were Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum, Chairwoman Allyson Pate, Vice Chairwoman Marie Imoh and board members Richard Bell, Mike Birchenough, Erica Truban, Elyus Wallace, Karen Holman and Bryan Pearce-Gonzales.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

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