In early August, the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education voted to sign a contract to buy the home at 92 Repton Road in Riverside, which stands immediately east of Ames School.

But the $343,822 offer, which was accepted by the owner, is now up in the air, because just a couple of weeks after the contract was signed, a Cook County Circuit Court judge entered a judgment of foreclosure and default order on the property and put it up for auction.

“When we went to schedule the closing, the seller was uncommunicative,” said District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye. “Then we learned we had an issue.”

Foreclosure proceedings against the residential property began in May 2015, but when the school district offered a price that would cover what remained on the mortgage, school officials believed they had a solid deal in place.

Now the school district will have to bid on the property at an auction scheduled for Nov. 22. The school district’s attorney will be representing District 96 at the auction, and officials are crossing their fingers that they’ll still be able to acquire the 17,000-square-foot parcel.

“We’ll follow the foreclosure process,” Ryan-Toye said. “We’re still reasonably hopeful.”

Another party could swoop in and outbid the school district at the auction, but since the district’s proposed purchase price would pay for what remains on the mortgage, it seems unlikely the property would appeal to a bargain hunter.

District 96 would like to acquire the property, because it would provide flexibility and an avenue for expanding Ames School, which has struggled to accommodate increasing enrollment.

Ryan-Toye said the property could be used to put an addition onto Ames School to increase classroom space or be used for outdoor learning or playground space.

But just having the property will allow the district options for easing crowding felt all over the district.

“There’s a domino effect to being able to expand [at Ames],” Ryan-Toye said.