Limestone County schools encouraging parents, coaches to drive buses


Ardmore baseball players started practice this month. Limestone County school leaders are encouraging coaches and parents to drive buses to meet the current demand.

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ARDMORE, Ala. - Limestone County school leaders are trying to get the word out that they're in desperate need of more bus drivers.

This week, the school board said 'Yes' to a pay raise for anyone who signs up to drive, which includes coaches.

With green grass on the diamond, coach Andrew Smith's team is eager to take the field.

"They know when we come back from Christmas that baseball is here," Smith said. "They're excited and ready to get this season started."

Under state law, the Ardmore baseball team can't do batting practice yet. Practice is just pitching, catching and running for the Tigers. Ardmore has another month to go before they play their first game, in what'll be Smith's eighth season.

"In the past two years, there have been times we've needed drivers for games," Smith said. "The buses were available, but the drivers weren't."

Right now, coach Smith says the baseball team isn't required to take the bus. Parents, players, and coaches can caravan to away games. But Limestone County leaders say drivers are running short. And they want someone from every sport to have a commercial license within two years.

"It's a backup plan for us," Limestone County Schools transportation director Rusty Bates said.

This week, the county school board agreed to pay raises for school and activities bus drivers. They're now putting the word out to parents, volunteers, and coaches encouraging them to get their commercial driver's license.

"We have two large high schools. And on any given Friday night, if they're both on the road, we could have as many as 12 buses out," Bates said.

Smith plans to get his CDL this season. Thankfully, he says the farthest trip so far for the Tigers will be 80 miles to a game in Boaz.

At this week's meeting, the Limestone County school board approved two pay raises. Bus drivers on field trips will now get $15 an hour and substitute drivers who pick up and drop off kids from school will get $70 a day.

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