HOMER, ILL., JUNE 23 -- The school board in this community of 1,300 people today unanimously approved a new contract, joining teachers in accepting a pact to end a bitter eight-month strike that was the longest in state history.

The board voted 6 to 0 on the two-year accord, guaranteeing jobs for the 25 remaining strikers who walked off their jobs at the elementary and high schools Oct. 17. About 100 residents at the meeting applauded the board's action.

"We're very pleased and very relieved that the strike is finally over," said Colleen Brodie, president of the teachers union. "Now we can get back to what we do best -- educating the students of Homer."

The contract does not specify pay raises, but calls for a formula setting salaries at about the median for small districts around the area.

The strike originally involved 27 teachers, but two left for work in other districts during the walkout. Brodie said she was not certain how many of the striking teachers would return in the fall.

The teachers gave the contract unanimous approval Monday, said union spokeswoman Charlene Edmiston.

Shortly after the October walkout, the school board reopened schools using substitutes, and most of the 360 students came back to class.