I'm a guv at the local infant school which has just expanded into primary school. I want to get away from using a web designer as they are invariably parents albeit professional or semi-professional web designers. Most school pages are simply text/image combinations and so getting a web designer to craft each page seems daft.
My day job is in IT and my research/playing has shown plone to be the best candidate given its built in approval workflow (which can re-configured via the web management tool).
For research, I set up a virtual server as mosso.com for $20 a month (hastle but it works and is cheap) to try but I think I'd prefer palepurple.co.uk hosting for 20 or 30 quid a month. This seems good value and you get hosting/support that is not dependent on a single guv/parent.
The front end to plone is cool out of the box but modifying the back end functionality is a lot of work as it is a bit of a rag-bag of parts (on top of Zope) and you need to know your server-side (python) stuff. However, you get a load of good stuff out of the box plus the capability to add all sorts of permission-driven intranet/extranet stuff when needed.
Discounted joomla as it lacks the workflow (approval) and plone seems future proof (although plone 4/5 could make some relatively large changes) - after all Nasa use plone in house.
Interested in other experiences of plone deployment and palepurple (of other plone) hosting.
You can find a list of existing educational Plone sites on their website, which is a really good showcase and shows what it's capable of.
I do admire Plone as a project - it's a comprehensive and versatile system with loads of good features. But I decided against it due to the steep learning curve (for me) when I wanted to do anything outside of the default. I even struggled with integrating my own theme for it; I just didn't have the time to dedicate to learning it properly.
We used PalePurple on their basic package. They gave an educational discount, I think it worked out under 200 quid a year.
I probably spent a day fiddling about learning how to use plone then set the site up in a day. It was pretty easy. The complex thing is changing the template. That's the only reason why you'd need to go into the back end. You might just like to pay someone to do that for you - there a plenty of places on the internet offering to design plone templates.
I just used the default template and went into the backend to change the colours and picture- pretty basic but it's fine.
I liked the idea of work flow (though never set it up!), permissions and the easy interface. I needed to get Pale Purple to install an extra module thing that would allow me to put photo news on the front page - by default, you can get news summaries, I think but no pictures with them. They did this for me for free. It was a few years ago though, that may have changed.
I don't work at the school anymore, but some staff still update it. It's nothing special, but does the job. Check it out here.