DETROIT-Before the winter of 2000-01, Detroit's school district relied on school principals to contract with the private vendor of their choice for removing snow from sidewalks, playgrounds, parking lots and roads. The usual result was deep snow covering everything for days following a heavy snow-six snow days off for students in 1999 alone.

This winter, the school district decided to sign a contract with B&L Landscaping and Torro & Braglio Landscaping to clear away the snow at all of the district's 260 schools. The streets and thoroughfares that students, school buses, and moms and dads must brave are now neatly plowed.

"Everything is just fantastic," Zelma Stinger, principal of Holcomb Elementary School, told The Detroit News. "The sidewalks are clear. The streets are clear. It's just amazing."