AUSTIN (KXAN) — School districts across the Austin metro area are still short more than 300 bus drivers, even a couple of weeks into the new school year.

Several districts have had to make significant changes to bus routes, such as Lake Travis ISD, which has had to resort to only providing transportation for students every other week.

“It’s been an extreme struggle to find those drivers,” said Brad Bailey, assistant superintendent for operations at LTISD. “It’s a very unpopular decision to make. We take no pride in making this decision. We just don’t have a choice.”

KXAN reached out to every district in the Austin metro. So far, we’ve heard back from 25 of 28 districts.

Across the region, districts reported 324 bus driver vacancies. In district after district, we heard of the struggles of finding drivers.

“We continue to actively recruit drivers, but the shortage is significant,” said Jennifer Edwards, executive director of communications for Dripping Springs ISD.

The map below shows the percentage of bus driver positions that are vacant in each district. It’s important to know that the numbers are changing day by day as districts hire new drivers, so this is just a snapshot in time.

In Lake Travis ISD, 52% of bus driver positions are still vacant: 39 out of 75 total. The district has increased starting salaries for drivers to $23 an hour, the highest of any district in the region to try to fill the gap.

McDade ISD also has 50% of positions vacant, but because the district is much smaller, that only equates to one driver. Superintendent Heather Stidham says driver pay was just increased to $18.40 an hour. The district also pays 100% of bus drivers’ health insurance, LifeLock and a life insurance policy. They’re also willing to pay for all commercial driver’s license (CDL) training classes.

Florence ISD Superintendent Paul Michalewicz says his district hires bus monitors and supports them in getting training to get their CDL license “because it is difficult to hire and retain drivers over extended periods of time.”

Several other districts are also paying for required training, including Austin ISD. The district has 35 vacancies out of 344 driver positions. Drivers in the district are also eligible to receive social security, which the district says is rare in Texas.

Others are offering sign-on bonuses, including $5,000 at both Bastrop ISD and Lago Vista ISD for drivers with experience. San Marcos CISD is offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

Round Rock ISD currently has 58 vacancies — more than any other local district — which is about 31% of all driver positions. Still, the district is “currently able to meet all demand through adjusting bus transportation strategies and routes to ensure all students are transported safely to and from school,” said Maritza Gallaga, associate director of communications at RRISD.

Hays CISD has 21 vacancies, but the district has 15 backup drivers that help fill the gaps. “We are actually in way better shape than many other districts and what we were in last year and a couple years ago,” said Tim Savoy, chief communications officer for HCISD. “In 2021 and 2018, we had been as high as 50 drivers short.”

A handful of districts have no driver vacancies, including Coupland ISD, Granger ISD, Smithville ISD and Lockhart ISD.

“We had a great start to the year being fully staffed in our transportation department,” Lockhart ISD Chief of Staff Christina Courson told KXAN.