AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s back to school for Austin ISD and this year the district says they are better off when it comes to teacher vacancies.

Last July, Austin ISD was looking to fill about 500 teaching positions, but this year the district has about 200 openings.

“We do have some key areas we are looking to fill still,” Matias Segura, AISD interim superintendent, said. “Some of these certifications whether it is multilingual education or special education services can be difficult.”

A closer look at the data shows the biggest needs are in elementary schools where there are 148 teacher vacancies. Out of those openings, 64 are for bilingual teachers and another 32 are for special education positions.

“They play an incredibly important role in our students’ lives,” Segura said.

There are 36 teacher vacancies for middle schools, with 16 openings for special education positions.

In high school, there are 23 vacancies with six of those being in special education.

Increasing teacher salaries by 7% and offering incentives for specialized areas was a priority for the district.

“Compensation helps significantly, but that usually gets folks in the door,” Segura said. “How do you keep them? You have to have a positive climate and culture, it has to be built on trust.”

Segura said he is hoping to see continued change in the district moving forward.

“We want our folks to feel good about the work, we want them to feel supported, like they are appreciated,” Segura said. “We have to demonstrate that at all levels.”