The change would create "accountability for parents to bring their children to school for the entire day of instruction," he said.
"And right now parents can bring their children an hour, an hour and a half late every day and there are no repercussions."
Schools can put students in detention or suspend them for too many tardies, but Nearman said he has found those punishments to be ineffective. Settle and Duerring agreed.
Gilliam doesn't think a different calendar would improve the attendance of students who regularly miss school.
"It doesn't matter if they're on the year-round calendar or not, that parent is still going to have issues getting their child to school on time," he said.
Absences and tardies are not a big problem at Stonewall, Gilliam said. He thinks the changes in hiring practices would have a far greater impact.
Even if the county said principals didn't have to weigh seniority as heavily when it came to hiring the right teacher for the right job, Gilliam doesn't think the schools actually would be allowed to follow through.
"Really, honestly, I think that's where the rubber meets the road," Gilliam said.
He thinks there are teachers who might be a good fit at his school, but they don't have as much seniority as other candidates so they can't be hired.
He would love to hire the right person but thinks state code and the teachers' unions are powerful enough to prevent principals from gaining that flexibility.
However, Nearman and Duerring said the county is already using such a policy when it comes to staffing the new Edgewood-area elementary school that will consolidate the student bodies of Robins and Watts.
Nearman will serve as principal of the sprawling new "school of the future." Set to open by fall of 2014, the building is designed for a curriculum incorporating project-based learning and advanced technology.
The curriculum is so specific, and the teachers needed for the positions so unique that Nearman and Duerring said they've already chosen people based more on qualifications and less on seniority.
About 90 percent of the school's 46 positions have been filled, Nearman said.
Because of the intensive amount of training needed to execute the new curriculum, Nearman said teachers had to agree to stay at the school for at least three years. Right now teachers are required to stay at a school for only one year, Nearman said.
"We wanted this knowledge that was gained from the trainings to be implemented at the very least for a few years," he said.
Removing the emphasis on seniority also is a focus of the state Board of Education, in response to a major audit of the state public school system.
Duerring said he thinks the pilot project proposed for the West Side is in keeping with many of the audit's recommendations, and he doesn't think the hiring portion would require any changes in state law.
Teacher union officials repeatedly have said seniority is only one of many factors weighed in hiring.
Christine Campbell, president-elect for the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the union wouldn't be excited about changes regarding seniority and hiring.
She's confident the most qualified teacher also happens to have the most seniority, so she doesn't think it will be that big of an issue.
Duerring said, "I don't think any one of those organizations would balk at hiring the most qualified person."
Legislators will decide whether to fund or approve some of the recommendations in the pilot project. However, Duerring said few of the recommendations actually require legislative action and the project could start as soon as the next school year.