Tindley Schools network taps former principal for CEO job

Indianapolis charter school network Tindley Accelerated Schools has named Kelli Marshall as its permanent CEO.

Marshall already has served Tindley as interim CEO for nearly a year. She took the place of Marcus Robinson, who resigned in February after 12 years in the role following questions about the network’s financial situation and his own lavish spending there.

Since then, Marshall, a former principal, has “successfully driven the restructuring and strategic planning of Tindley Accelerated Schools” and driven up enrollment, according to Tindley.

“During her tenure, the system has reached an all-time high for enrollment serving nearly 1,800 scholars,” according to a press release announcing Marshall’s hiring.

Marshall has been involved in the six-school Tindley network for years, first as assistant principal of Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School and then as principal of Tindley Collegiate Academy.

Previously, she was principal of Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School and of IPS School 42, an elementary school.

She said her goals are continuing to grow enrollment and improving the network’s finances, staff retention, programming for elementary school children, and parent communication.

“We don’t want to change too much because the foundation of Tindley is solid,” Marshall said. “One big goal I’ve started this year is to open the lines of communication. The pendulum has shifted in a positive direction.”

Tindley is also celebrating some recent ISTEP gains and trying to focus more on its struggling elementary schools.

Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School had the highest ISTEP passing rate—57 percent—on both the english and math tests of all Marion County high schools.

And test scores at the Tindley Preparatory Academy, an all-boys middle school, jumped 15 percentage points.

However, scores at some other Tindley schools dropped. Just 23 percent of students passed ISTEP tests at Tindley Summit Academy elementary school, down from its 44 percent pass rate last year.

Marshall said she is trying to learn from the scores, and that she has embedded mid-year professional development training for teachers to learn from Patrick Jones, Tindley Prep’s principal.

Marshall is also pleased with enrollment growth. After an enrollment shortfall last year that caused a cash crunch, the school budgeted more conservatively this year.

The school network met just 75 percent of its enrollment goal of 2,197 last year, creating a $2.8 million revenue shortfall.

This year, the network brought in more than 700 new families for a total enrollment of about 1,800—and ultimately ended up with fall enrollment that was 150 more students than the network had budgeted for.

Marshall said she recently created a parent advisory council for the network. It started with three or four parents attending the meetings. Now, between eight and 12 parents attend each meeting.

She said she hopes to keep growing that.

“We want to make sure that all of our families and donors and community partners know how appreciative we are of their input,” Marshall said. “Tindley is still strong.”

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