Our PTO is beginning a project to improve our primary school playground and landscape around the area of the playground. The school system has given us no budget for playground or grounds maintenance. We are desperate for any plant donations. If anyone is in the process of dividing and have any extras or ideas on how to spread the money we have raised further, please contact me. You can go to our website at www.pcpspto.com and view our presentation from the front page to see how bad our grounds look. We are planning a work day with parents and students.
Hope you're having some luck. I have worked on a volunteer school garden. I'd suggest that any daylilies, and Autumn Joy sedum, are things that are tough, usually look pretty tidy and then when they die down are easy to clean up. Watch out for anything that self sows because it will become messy.
I used perennial blackeyed susans in my beds too. And if any school family has liriope (Mondo grass) they may be willing to dig some up and you can edge with it or use it to fill areas.
You'll probably get better advice on shrubs in the Tree and Shrub forum- I am not that knowledgeable on shrubs. I used some old evergreen Euonymus like this one http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/79672/
because it roots very easily so I had tons to share. It grows fast and can tolerate any abuse. Can get scale insects though, but mine stays healthy as long as I don't shear it like a hedge. They can get huge.
I looked at the newsletter--are you doing the planting day very soon? Will you want donations after that day too?