Niagara Gazette


October 14, 2013

HIGGS: Beech Avenue School and city integration


Niagara Gazette — The real goal was citywide integration and studies began anew in 1970 to reduce the racial imbalance. Beech Avenue School was 66 percent black and 10th Street School was 40 percent black with Ashland Avenue; Cayuga Drive, Pacific Avenue, 24th Street and 99th Street schools predominately white.

A perimeter plan was begun called Plan 21 by the advisory committee and school administrators to reassign more than 450 pupils to keep the ratio to 80 percent white and 20 percent black and was approved in March of 1970. Busing was the big objection due to cost and inconvenience. The Plan 21 was called “structurally sound by Dr. Martin Sobel of the Bureau of Intercultural Relations in January of 1970 and was considered a model by the State Department of Education. It involved eight schools: Ashland Avenue, Beech Avenue, 10th Street, 22nd Street, 24th Street, 79th Street, 95th Street and 99th Street.

By April of 1970 plans were in the talking stage for a 20 acre site for the new $4.7 million Harry F. Abate School and a $4.7 million public library. In 1978 the Beech Avenue School was officially rededicated the Henry J. Kalfas School and in 1990 it became an early childhood magnet school. Today Mrs. Kerins serves as the principal.

Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council.

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