Soaring pupil numbers are putting pressure on schools across Moray, education bosses have warned.
Capacity at several is now at 90% or above and there are concerns teaching and pupil experience could suffer.
The authority is in the midst of creating a long-term plan for the region’s school estate, which could include creating new schools.
The situation is not the same everywhere, as rolls have dwindled at several schools and the council is considering merging two primaries near Keith.
Both Botriphnie and Crossroads have been described as “unsustainable” amid increasing maintenance bills and declining pupil numbers.
At a meeting of the council’s children and young people’s committee, councillors stressed the need to protect rural schools and urged officials not to consider low pupil numbers a sign of a failing school.
Depute chief executive Denise Whitworth, however, told them the number of classrooms approaching capacity was a more pressing concern.
Reports produced for the meeting showed that Bishopmill, Cluny, Newmill, St Gerardine and St Peter’s are all currently at 90% capacity or above.
Education department projections have established the need for a new primary school in the north of Elgin, with a capacity for 450 pupils, by 2023.
Elgin City North councillors Paula Coy and Frank Brown each welcomed assurances a business plan for the new school will be undertaken early next year.
Mrs Coy said: “The figures show that nearby Bishopmill has one of the highest occupancy rates so it’s welcome there is movement with the new school.”
And Mr Brown added: “It’s good to see the Findrassie [a major land release in the north of Elgin which is allocated in the Moray Local Development Plan] progressing.
“We’re all aware of difficulties with planning agreements that led to construction of Linkwood being delayed so we need to make sure that lessons have been learned.”
Schools currently at less than 50% occupancy across Moray include Botriphnie, Crossroads, Findochty, Glenlivet, Logie, Portgordon, Portknockie and Tomintoul.
Speyside Glenlivet councillor Derek Ross, who is a former teacher, stressed the importance of retaining rural schools.
He said: “Just because there is empty space doesn’t mean it is not getting used. Schools need space to do drama, music and art.
“It’s all very well to have these statistics but we need to understand what is happening in schools. I wouldn’t like to see schools at 100% capacity.”
Mrs Whitworth replied: “We need to take into account schools going over capacity too.
“It will be for councillors to decide what they want to see with under capacity schools in the future.
“We need to look at what’s happening at schools that could go over capacity. That’s probably a more urgent area.”