A US school district has struck a deal with Apple to keep Macs at the heart of education there - and inadvertently hinted that new Intel Macs will ship early in 2006.

A report on the Kinston Free Press reveals: "The school system will sell its 2,041 existing laptops before Apple announces its new product lines on January 9, 2006."

The plan is to get new notebooks from Apple - and save one million dollars.

Middle and high school students are to return their notebooks and will receive new ones when they get back from holidays in January. The description makes it appear the new computers will be the recently-updated iBooks and PowerBooks.

"The threat of bugs in newer-model computers the schools would have to purchase later in the year also made Greene County Schools move early to refresh laptops," the report adds.