Stop me from spinning around... Please.

I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. No extra cash to hire someone and not a complete skill set to "get it" all on my own.

I came here to develop a network. And what I basically want to do is offer users the possibility to publish a specialty blog. I was raking my brain trying to figure out how to map the whole thing, the I went to the source of inspiration... Edublogs.org

Can someone explain to me how the site is laid-out? The home page and admin pages don't share the same attributes as the network sites and that's what I need.

How can I recreate the exact same scheme...

One theme and plugins for the main site, and a completely different subset for the subdomain managed network.