CLINT, Texas — Like many other school bus operators, Clint Independent School District (ISD) found that seat repair maintenance was taking a big bite out of its transportation budget. But the district found the answer to its maintenance expenses in Salvador Montelongo.
Montelongo, a skilled textile worker, came to Clint ISD in 2002 when many local textile plants moved across the border to hire cheaper labor. Like hundreds of textile workers from the area, Mr. Montelongo was left looking for a job, and he found one at the Clint ISD transportation department.
Montelongo, who was first a bus driver for the district, quickly noticed the high cost of having school bus seat covers repaired. He thought of the savings that the district could reap if they were to open up a sew shop and make their own seat repairs.
In the 2005-06 school year, Montelongo began to research and develop a plan to repair the seats by recycling torn or ripped seat covers.
“We started looking at our fleet and noticed the majority of the damage was being done on the back cover of the seat,” Montelongo said. “We found almost no material damaged on the fronts, so this was our opportunity to study the possibility of how cost effective this project could be.”
Montelongo also studied state and federal laws that regulated school bus seats. He found a local fabric supplier that could supply the required fabric in bulk and at a price that would meet budget needs.
Later, a sewing machine and other supplies were added to the plan. The plan was presented to the transportation department director, Pedro Flores Jr.
After a few meetings and many questions, Montelongo was given the go-ahead to implement his plan and set up a shop. The Clint ISD transportation department sew shop is now repairing, manufacturing and designing seat covers to meet the needs of the fleet at a substantial savings to the district — without sacrificing quality, appearance or the safety of the fleet.