Wendy's Joins Fight to Keep School Open
Allaire Road restaurant changes sign in support of West Belmar School
Members of a group opposed to the Board of Education’s proposal to close West Belmar School scored their most visible win Saturday when a fast-food restaurant near Route 35 lent its support.
The outside menu board at the Wendy’s restaurant at 1407 Allaire Road, near Route 35 – which normally hawks the chain’s specials – was changed to read: “Save West Belmar School.’’
Melanie Giblin, an organizer of the group “Save Wall Township Schools,’’ said a sympathetic manager there received permission from the restaurant’s owner to change the sign.
The manager, Lauren Liard, 26, said a couple of parents came this past week and asked if the restaurant could help them out.
"We're part of the community,'' said Liard, of Eatontown. "Schools are overcrowded enough.''
Liard, a former Wall resident who attended Central School, said the sign would likely stay up for at least a week.
“We’re hoping that more people become aware, because this is going to affect everyone,’’ said Mimi Kennedy, of Glenn Street in the West Belmar section, who brought her family to eat at Wendy’s Saturday. “This is David and Goliath.’’
Kennedy, who has two children in West Belmar School, said many parents concerned about the possible school closure are planning to come to the restaurant today.
“We want to support the places that support us,’’ Kennedy said. “There are lots of us coming today.’’
Wendy’s is the latest in a string of businesses that have thrown their support for the opposition group. Among them, Luke’s Pizzeria on New Bedford Road across from the high school, and the iconic Circus Drive-in on Route 35, each have allowed the group to put up signs on their properties.
"It's hard to put into words the feelings I have when I hear my kids in the back seat, counting the signs they see all over town,'' Giblin said. "We are so appreciative of the support of friends, families, neighbors, fellow parents and local businesses. It's inspiring to know that Wall is a strong community that is willing to go above and beyond."
The Board of Education has examined the closure of West Belmar Elementary School – the town’s oldest school, which also has the lowest census – finding that shuttering it would save the district $1 million a year, mainly in staff reductions and building maintenance costs.
The closure, if it happened, also would not dramatically affect the districts remaining three elementary schools, according to the results of the board’s internal study.
The board also last month enlisted T & M Associates of Middletown to conduct a more thorough study, which is currently ongoing. The study is expected to take at least until the end of the month, board members have said.
Save the Wall Schools’ members, however, have said proposed savings from the closure could be realized through less drastic means.