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[SLUG] Which Distribution for schools?

In an effort to get Linux more mainstream within the state school system I
am looking at getting set up a room of dual boot machines. With the state
govt. rollout of computers to schools we are free to choose what we like,
basically either iMacs or Win98 machines of various ilk. I've had some
prelim discussions with one of the suppliers of win98 machines about having
their machines setup for dual boot, Win and Linux ( I know, I know, I can
hear the wolves howling, but at present schools are largely a windows

The question,

I don't know enough about the various distributions apart from RH to decide?

1) For an education envt (High school) is there a distro that is "Better" or
to be preferred.

2) Should Linux reside within it's own partition or as I believe some
distros can 'live' in a folder within windows.

Any comments along these lines or any other suggestions most welcome. What's
the best way of getting Linux more mainstream in schools?