The proposed Garioch Academy would relieve the strain on the 1,600-pupil Ellon Academy and the 1,100-pupil Inverurie Academy.
If the new school is not built, the council estimates there will be a shortfall of more than 400 places by 2001. Housing plans could increase the pressure still further. Aberdeenshire says a school of more than 800 pupils would be created if 10 or so primaries were rezoned from Ellon and Inverurie.
The major hurdle confronting the council is cost. The Scottish Office will insist that, as with all new building projects, the possibility of bringing in private capital should be explored.