JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Local school districts are excited about a proposed increase to teachers’ pay in Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Lee has proposed $125 million for teacher pay raises across the state.

Local school officials say this would further support their teachers, who they see as the backbone of the education system.

“It’s an investment in our students, an investment in our children and in the future of our region and in our state and our country,” said Johnson City Schools Superintendent Steve Barnett.

Barnett says Johnson City Schools is the 10th highest paying district in the state and believes in investing in its teachers.

“I think it’s a really great goal for our community to have,” Barnett said. “It shows the investment that taxpayers in Johnson City have in education. Not that it’s an expense, but it’s an investment.”

Even with Johnson City Schools offering teachers higher pay, the school system says it would still see a percentage increase with the governor’s proposed budget.

Unicoi County Schools Superintendent John English says the pay increase would be “two-fold,” both bringing in new teachers and helping keep current ones. He says this would be helpful, especially after the pandemic added on new stresses for teachers in an already stressful job.

“I just think about what teachers have gone through, what they go through, what they’re going to continue to go through in the classroom and it looks a lot different than it did even 10 years ago, 15 years ago,” English said.

Both school districts look forward to the benefits this pay increase would bring, especially believing it would incentivize young people who are interested in education but are concerned about pay.