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Every fifth- and sixth-grader at Johnson Elementary, 100 to 150 students, will receive a $1,350 IBM ThinkPad computer loaded with digital versions of state-approved textbooks and 2,000 works of literature. If the experiment works, the program will be expanded to other grades as well.

"We think this is better than simply going out and buying more textbooks," said Smith, who expects a shortage of 600 textbooks in August. Enrollment is projected to rise 20 percent or more at the district, and it takes three months to get new books.

Forney is the first district in the country to sign up with IBM Corp. for digital notebooks bundled with content, as the company tries to get an edge in the competitive school computer market and jump-start educators' interest in using more laptops.

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