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Enrollment application open for New Arts-Focused Public Charter School, information sessions planned for this month

Phoenix International School of the Arts, also known as PISOTA, is hosting virtual information sessions this month for community members interested in learning more about the new public middle school. PISOTA will be the first public charter school within Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and is scheduled to open in August 2023. PISOTA will open in La Plata as a middle school serving students in Grades 6-8. Students must apply for enrollment consideration for the 2023-2024 school year.

Interested families can complete an application online at the PISOTA website.

Since 2019, PISOTA founders — consisting of students, parents, teachers, education researchers and community leaders — have been consulting and collaborating with the Charles County community-at-large to design PISOTA.

In Maryland, public charter schools are part of their local school district with oversight of the local Board of Education. Maryland public charter schools are held accountable to the communities they serve, their local Board of Education and the Maryland State Department of Education. Charter schools are also publicly funded and do not require tuition or an entrance exam for students.

PISOTA will have an arts-focused program of study using the Cambridge International Education curriculum that meets Maryland State Department of Education and CCPS course and assessment requirements. Once it opens, PISOTA would be another public school within CCPS. The school is subject to all expectations set out in a charter agreement with the Board of Education of Charles County but overseen by a board of trustees and a chief executive officer.

The virtual information sessions are scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21, and Tuesday, Nov. 29, both at 6 p.m. Participants will need an active Zoom account to join the sessions. Interpreting assistance will also be available for community members that join who speak Spanish. Session details are below; both sessions will cover the same information.

Monday, Nov. 21, 6 p.m. information session

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m. information session

Topics for discussion at the information sessions include art disciplines to be offered through PISOTA, core academic subjects to be taught, transportation arrangements for students accepted to attend PISOTA and other unique opportunities that will be available for PISOTA students.

Students must complete an online application for PISOTA enrollment consideration. For students to be considered during the open enrollment period, an application must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16. The application is available at

The application will remain open after the open enrollment period; any student who applies on Dec. 17 or after will be placed on a waitlist and considered for enrollment on a space available basis following the lottery selection process in January 2023.

To learn more, visit Phoenix International School of the Arts (PISOTA).

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).