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Important Dates

November 1, 2019
2020-2021 applications open

January 11, 2020
Annual open house

January 28, 2020
2020-2021 application window 1
closes 5pm
2020-2021 application window 2
opens 5pm

February 11, 2020
Enrollment lottery 1 5pm

May 12, 2020
Application window 2
closes 5pm
2020-2021 applications close

May 26, 2019
2020-2021 enrollment lottery 2 5pm


First-graders on superhero day

Both application windows for the 2019-2020 school year have closed, and we are no longer accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. You may apply for the 2020-2021 school year starting 
November 1, 2019. The first application window will then remain open through January 28, 2020 at 5PM.


Thank you for your interest in becoming a part of our International School of Monterey community of 426 students, 50 staff members, and 12 volunteer board members. As a committed educational community, all of these individuals and their families work together toward our mission to “educate all students toward becoming conscientious, compassionate, and responsible citizens of the world.”

We encourage you to gather as much information as possible about our school by reading this application packet and other written materials including our Charter, visiting our website, attending our admissions events, and talking with current ISM families before choosing to apply and enroll your child. We expect our families to strongly commit to our mission and our vision of “a world of understanding.” By living our mission, we strive to create that world of understanding locally each day on our campus so that our students will develop the international knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to contribute productively toward creating that world of understanding globally throughout their lives. We firmly believe that our mission and vision only become possible through the full commitment of all ISM families to being active participants in the educational process.

As you have likely heard, our school has developed a very strong reputation that leads to a large applicant pool each year. So that we can ensure that all interested families have equal access to the information that they need to make an informed decision about applying, we have developed extensive online information including an FAQ that answers questions often asked by interested families. So that we can direct our staff time to providing answers to new questions as they arise, we respectfully ask that you carefully consult these resources before contacting us for more information. If you have a question not covered by the FAQ, please email or call 831-583-2171 so that we can provide the information you need. You can usually expect a response within five working days except during school holidays.

To ensure that you understand what ISM is and does, we ask that you carefully read each of the important sections below. Then, if your thorough research and thoughtful consideration leads you to believe that ISM will best meet the educational goals you have set for your family and child, please follow the instructions to submit your application by the Tuesday, January 28, 2019, 5PM Pacific Time deadline for our First Application Window for the 2020-2021 school year. (NOTE: Applications are no longer possible for the 2019-2020 school year.]

We are an Accredited International School with High Expectations

ISM brings worldclass international education to the public school setting; integrates best practices, established state and international standards, and an international curriculum; maintains a multicultural environment that advances understanding of and respect for all; and promotes strong partnerships among school, home, and community.

Through our academic commitments to internationalism, inquiry, understanding, and success as well as our full-spectrum curriculum that includes Spanish instruction, visual and performing arts, and physical education from kindergarten through grade eight, we have earned full accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS).

The International Baccalaureate has also authorized ISM as an IB World School offering the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) in grades K-5 and the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) in grades 6-8. These IB programmes offer ISM frameworks and guidelines that help structure our curriculum. Using these frameworks, teachers write inquiry-based units of instruction that address the key elements and concepts of the IB while incorporating California state standards including Common Core State Standards as adopted by California. 

IB schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education that we believe important for our students. Only schools authorized by the IB Organization can offer any of its academic programs: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme, and the IB Career-Related Certificate.

For further information about the IB and its programs, please visit our IB Learner ProfilePYP, and MYP pages and the IB website.

As an accredited international school and IB World School, ISM demands a high degree of commitment from students and their parents and guardians. We expect ISM students to think freely and believe in self, develop personal potential, respect everyone, and connect with the world. We expect ISM parents and guardians to maintain high expectations at home, express enthusiasm for learning, participate in each child’s learning every day, and support the school. At all grade levels as regular parts of the program, homework and project-based instruction require that students and parents work together to target success on a daily basis. We ask students and their parents to sign an agreement committing to these expectations prior to enrollment.

We are a Public Charter School Open to All Students by Lottery

ISM is a nonprofit, coeducational, English-language, public charter school open to all applicants without discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, level of English, or any other prohibited characteristic. ISM also adheres to all provisions of federal law related to students with disabilities including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004. ISM administers no tests or assessments to students prior to acceptance and enrollment into the school.

Once enrolled, ISM students receive guaranteed placement in subsequent years. Because the combination of continuing students and applicants exceeds capacity each year, we fill available spaces through a public random drawing (i.e. lottery) conducted according to the California Education Code and the provisions of our Charter. We include all applications received during a published application window in the ensuing lottery without consideration for the order received. Each applicant included in a lottery receives placement in the school at the appropriate grade level or a numbered position on our waiting list for that grade level. We have two application windows and lotteries each year. Applications received later than the published closing day and time for the first application window are included in the second application window and lottery. We do not process applications received later than the published closing day and time for the second application window. If a spot becomes available and the waitlist has been exhausted for the grade involved, we may hold a subsequent open enrollment period for that grade only.

Consistent with the terms of our Charter, ISM extends preference in the public random drawing to the following applicants, in order of priority:

  1. Students from Monterey County
    • Whose parents, legal guardians, or grandparents are members of the ISM Board of Trustees
    • Whose parents or legal guardians are ISM employees
    • Returning to ISM at the beginning of the school year from at least one academic year of study abroad
    • Who are siblings of current ISM students
    • Who have reapplied for the next grade level above the grade level where they have been on the waitlist during the prior year (Note: ISM treats students who reapply for enrollment at the same grade level for which they were on the prior year waitlist equally with first-time applicants.)
  2. All other Monterey Peninsula Unified School District residents
  3. All others

Per the California Education Code, students must be 5 years old by SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 to enter kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year, and 6 years old by SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 to enter 1st grade.

All applicants must provide accurate residency and birthdate information. Though we cannot always check for accuracy before each lottery, we do require documentation of the applications of students offered enrollment as a result of the lottery. We expect applicants to verify residency with rental or ownership documents showing that a parent or legal guardian resides at the listed address. We also require that applicants verify birthdates with birth certificates. In cases where the information on the application is discovered to be inaccurate, ISM will nullify the student's lottery results and void the application, and the applicant must reapply during the next open application window in order to further seek placement in ISM or on our waitlist.

We Encourage Family Participation

As a charter school, volunteer Family Hours are one of our most important resources. In fact, we could not succeed without the 14,000+ hours contributed by parents, grandparents, students, and others each year. We believe that family involvement improves both the educational process and our organizational success while also creating a strong sense of community for all involved family members. As such, we request that each family set a goal of three Family Hours of monthly service to the school for the first enrolled child and one additional Family Hour per month for each additional child. Options for these hours of service include classroom assistance, fieldtrip driving and chaperoning, Saturday school-site workdays, committee and workgroup assignments, office work, take-home work, school meetings, and much more. So every family can easily find a meaningful and workable way to contribute volunteer time.

As a public school, ISM cannot and does not charge tuition; however, we can and do ask for financial contributions. We receive basic funding from the State of California. The ISM Foundation—a nonprofit organization of ISM parents and other supporters operating independently from the school for the sole purpose of supporting the school—augments our funding through its annual Family Share campaign that asks families for voluntary contributions, according to their means, to cover the gap between state allocations and our actual costs per student. Approximately 85 percent of families voluntarily contribute each year.

We Offer District Special Education Instruction & Services

As a charter school authorized by the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (District), the International School of Monterey operates as a public school of the District for all special education purposes. Accordingly, students eligible for special education who are enrolled in ISM receive special education services in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and in the same manner as any other student enrolled in the District. The District, as the local education agency for special education purposes, offers a full continuum of special education instruction and related services to ensure that all special education students receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Not every service on the continuum of options is offered at the ISM school site. Accordingly, an ISM student requiring special education services may receive such services from the District at another site in the District or as otherwise arranged by the District in accordance with the student’s IEP and the policies of the District and Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA).

Special education placements and related services available on site at ISM may include general education inclusion, a resource specialist program, speech and language therapy, and other designated instructional services. Other special education placements and services are available off-site in the District as called for in a student’s IEP.

ISM shall not discriminate against any student with disabilities in the ISM admissions and enrollment process.