For the past two years I have purchased a yearly subscription to a stand alone website (School World) which I love. I did this because our district was using a very nonuser friendly website for its teachers and I was tired of not being able to do what I want with the website they had given me.
I got the idea of a separate website from one of my son's teachers who had done the same thing years ago, she used a different teacher website then School World but it was the same principle.
The yearly subscription rate for my own website was $35 and was extremely reasonable. I simply provided a link on my district website to my new site. The district did not have a problem with this. Several teachers were doing it. I am one of these "don't ask...don't tell" teachers so even if there was a problem I wasn't going to find out about it :)
Last year the rest of the fourth grade team purchased subscriptions to the site as well. We also purchased our own domain names through godaddy.com. The website address the district gives us is cumbersome and by purchasing our own domain name we were able to streamline our address making it easier to communicate with parents, students, and other teachers (the domain names we use are mrsheatonsclass.com, mrswellersclass.com, mrsedwardsclass.com). The cost to purchase the domain name for the year was only $11.62....so worth the money! Once you have the name you simply link it to your existing website. So, if a person types in mrsheatonsclass.com they are directed to my School World site.
This year the district purchased a new website for teachers (School Fusion) and we have now been told officially we are to use it. While it is not as good as School World, and I am very sad to loose my site, I am a "team player" and have started working on putting together my new district website.
I still plan on keeping my domain name for the year but now I will link it to the new district site. I like the idea of telling parents and students to go to www.mrsheatonsclass.com verses telling parents to go to http://heaton.moes.beaufortsc.schoolfusion.us.