We are enthused about transit-oriented housing developments. We like the added density these smaller, in-fill projects bring. We value mixed-use projects that blend new apartments and commercial space, when it is logical.

What we often aren’t enthused about when we look at what gets built is the architecture. Dull. And built with materials that are not made for the ages.

A project currently moving quickly toward approval in Brookfield checks our initial boxes. It is very near the Metra tracks. With 31 upscale apartments and ground-floor space designed for a good-sized restaurant, the project brings more density, more people to Brookfield’s downtown. 

What is most intriguing though is that the design on what is an odd triangle-shaped parcel is bold, handsome, distinctive. Which is likely why you have Village President Michael Garvey calling the project “exciting” and noting that it has the attention of local residents.

The village is likely to pay developer Martin McDonough $300,000 out of the TIF to guarantee that the project not only includes parcels at Fairview and Sunnyside, which he currently owns, but to add a portion that now houses a garage owned by Brookfield Zoo.

A good outcome on all fronts.

The weeds of standardized tests

Standardized school test scores are, at best, a mixed blessing. They offer an imperfect accountability for school districts. They provide a snapshot of a large group of students, and some less certain measure for subsets of those students. The tests have some value in discerning longer-term trends.

In the case of test results recently debated by the school board at Riverside Brookfield High School, we welcome one such trend that tells us the school, like others, is beginning to see a turn up from the academic declines brought on by COVID. 

The interesting debate at the board table was over exactly what it had directed the school’s administration to measure. The results reported at the Oct. 10 meeting tracked test results only for students who had begun their freshman year at the school. The logic a majority of the board argued for was that in excluding students who transferred into RB after freshman year, the results offered a clear picture of the value that the school brought to students who had benefitted from four years of instruction. 

Board member Laura Hruska said that was a misleading subset of students to track and that it created overall results which did not reflect the full student body.

We are unclear why the data cannot be reported both ways. It would seem seeing those results side-by-side would bring a more nuanced response from both administrators and the school board.