Teachers voted Wednesday to end their more than two-week strike, paving the way for Detroit's 130,000 students to return to their classrooms on Thursday.

The union's executive board approved a tentative three-year contract Tuesday, and teachers voted Wednesday to return to work while the ratification vote is taking place by mail.

"We stayed united. We made great sacrifices, because we were fighting for what is right," Detroit Federation of Teachers President Janna Garrison told the thousands of teachers gathered at Cobo Arena. "The contract that we have brought you is not everything that we sought. ... Do we deserve more? Sure we do."

Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Education Center

The teachers also will lose three days' pay for three preparation days that were canceled because of the strike.

The walkout began Aug. 28 after teachers rejected a two-year contract proposal.

The district initially sought a 5.5 percent pay cut over two years to help close a $105 million deficit in the district's $1.36 billion budget. The union wanted raises after years without them.

The two sides eventually agreed on a one-year pay freeze, followed by increases of 1 percent the second year and 2.5 percent the third. Veteran teachers also will start paying 10 percent of their health insurance costs, something that only those hired since 1992 did formerly.

"I don't think it's a wonderful contract, but it is workable," said Tanya Smith, a speech therapist with 11 years in the district. She said she feared that the strike was harming an already hard-hit community.