"We're not against the balanced calendar, but show me how it's going to make any difference," Campbell said.
Overall, Campbell said she is in favor of the pilot program. It could provide some evidence as to whether the calendar or the other changes included are effective.
Watts recently presented the project to a group of state lawmakers studying the statewide education efficiency audit. Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, is a member of that group and said he's excited about the prospect.
"I come out of the business world. Pilots are always a good way to test ideas, products, new methods," Nelson said Monday in a phone interview. "I've seen (Watts) perform other duties before. And what he's talking about is hitting a need that desperately needs to be serviced."
Another change recommended in the project is the hiring of teachers based on the needs of a specifically designed job instead of seniority. Campbell didn't think her organization would be too excited about the changes in hiring practices, but she didn't think the issue would crop up very frequently.
Most of the time the most qualified teacher is also the one with the most seniority, she said. While Duerring said teacher certification does not always lead to teacher quality, he agreed that everyone is on the same page as far as getting the right teacher in the right room.
"I don't think anybody would fight the idea that you want the right teacher in that position for that particular school. I just can't see or imagine anyone would want to fight that, that whole idea," Duerring said.
Involving the community, businesses and other stakeholders will be key to the success of the project, Watts said. Most of the remaining recommendations relate to involving community organizations, the state Legislature and the state Board of Education.
Although the pilot addresses only the West Side, Watts and Duerring both believe it could affect schools across the state.
Many of the recommendations fall in line with the suggestions made in the audit and with the state board's response to that audit, Duerring said. If it is designated as a state pilot program, there could be additional state funds available.
However, it would also bring attention to the program and potentially allow other educators to see what works and what doesn't, Watts said.
"We want the West Side itself to be ground zero for education reform," Watts said.
He admitted it could take a little more convincing at the local level before the entire community buys in to the ideas. The pilot itself is also only a template, and a school should be held accountable for whether any proposed changes work, Watts said.
Even if the Legislature doesn't look at the pilot, Duerring is confident the county can move forward with some recommendations right away. He agreed some of the ideas might not be popular, acknowledging that parents of students at J.E. Robins and Watts recently overwhelmingly voted against a year-round calendar for the new Edgewood-area elementary school.
"Well, there may be some backlash. But I think there's the time where you just have to stand up and do the right thing," Duerring said.
"I think there's a time where you have to step in and take control, and say, 'This is what we're going to do so that we hope that we can increase student achievement,' " he continued.
The Kanawha County Board of Education must approve the pilot or any of the suggested reforms before it could advance to the state level. The board is scheduled to discuss the program at 6 p.m. Thursday during its regular meeting at the board offices on Elizabeth Street.