You can do a similar thing with a VoIP line for say $10-15 a month, a S/H desktop and a free iso image, a selection of free soft phones or cheap IP phones(not grandstream BT101/102's !!)
Why not make it a school project ? Ask for sponsorship or similar, get the community involved. I would send you a server myself but your IT guy doesn't sound up to it. If he's a windows man then 3CX free edition is a no brainer.