Mearns residents have been given more time to develop a community bid for the former Mearns Academy site and playing fields.
A decision to market the Laurencekirk building will be delayed until April to allow the local development trust to deliver a business case for community use.
The decision follows local pressure for the development of community facilities in Laurencekirk.
The former school site has lain empty for more than 12 months since the new £28 million school was opened.
The replacement academy is now £800,000 over budget.
After a private item at Aberdeenshire Council, policy and resources committee chairman Martin Kitts-Hayes said: “We are listening to local views and are very aware that there is a lot of interest and enthusiasm for identifying the best use of the site for the benefit of the community.
“We are keen to give the community an appropriate amount of time to turn their ideas into something that can be delivered and sustained in the long-term. It should be based on local need, and identify potential funding streams as part of that process.
“We’re open to their ideas and hope that this delay in marketing the site will give them the time they need to turn their ideas into a robust business case.”
Vice-chairman Richard Thomson hailed “a fantastic opportunity” in the face of limited public-sector funding for community assets.
Councillors also approved a recommendation to declare the former Mearns Community Centre as surplus. It will be marketed for sale after the extension to Laurencekirk Primary School is finished.
The new Mearns Academy has encountered costly problems with water connections.
Mearns councillor George Carr said some of the additional costs are “unacceptable”.
He said: “The issue with the water at the academy should have been planned when they were doing the plans for the school, but doing them now explains why the additional costs are so high.
“There are also problems with some of the interior and exterior parts of the academy which need to be addressed as well.”
A £305,000 bill from Scottish Water to upgrade the water main at the school, and delays associated with this, have added another £200,000.
Additional IT spend is another £140,000 of the £800,000 total.