ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - High school graduation rates are up in Tampa Bay and school districts took turns Wednesday highlighting their successes following the release of 2016-17 data from the Florida Department of Education.

Hillsborough schools set an all-time record with an 82.9 rate, a 3.8 percentage point increase from last year.

"Because students with a high school diploma earn $380,000 more during their lifetimes compared to students who don’t graduate, this increase has a $255 million positive economic impact on our community," the district said in a statement.

Officials touted a culture where all employees are "graduation champions."

"Graduation champions are everywhere in our schools and in our community – with bus drivers starting each morning, mechanics, custodians, student nutrition services employees, school security officers, front office staff, teachers, principals, district employees and countless community partners who provide resources, time and support for students," the district said.

Pinellas schools, along with Hillsborough, are tied for the third highest graduation rate among Florida's eight largest school districts. Pinellas' 11 percentage point increase is the largest among those districts.

Both districts surpassed the statewide high school graduation rate of 82.3 percent, which represents a 14-year high.

Sarasota schools increased .3 percentage points to 85.7 while Polk schools rose to 75.4, an increase of 3.6 percentage points.

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