Students from two Roman Catholic schools received new laptop computers May 2 under a pilot program that mirrors Gov. Angus King’s initiative to provide similar technology to all seventh- and eighth-graders in the state’s public schools.

St. James School in Biddeford and Cathedral School in Portland are the first Catholic schools in Maine to get the Dell laptops. The initial shipments of Apple iBook computers for public schools were delivered earlier this year.

At present, there are no plans to allow students to take the laptops home, said Sister Rosemary Donohue, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Portland.

Catholic school officials said donations from Biddeford Savings Bank and Verizon helped launch the pilot program. They also thanked three vendors—Dell, Intel, and Microsoft—for providing discounts on the technology.

The Dell Latitude C510 laptops with Intel Celeron processors, Microsoft Windows XP operating systems, and wireless networking are part of a system valued at $2,500 per machine retail. Without providing specific figures, Donohue said the schools “got a good deal.”

Under the program, Cathedral and St. James each will get 21 laptops and one wireless base station. Donohue said the availability of resources will determine when and if Maine’s 16 other Catholic elementary schools get the technology.

In setting up the state laptop program, officials said church schools would not receive state-subsidized computers and private schools would get them only when the state pays tuition to cover students from towns with no public schools.

King’s office helped facilitate the Catholic schools’ laptop purchases by putting educators in contact with vendors.