The Kawerau District Council fears a closed school it was unable to buy will be left vacant and will become a target for vandalism.
The eastern Bay of Plenty town, which is predominately Maori, has been hit by job losses at the local Norske Skog paper mill and two school closures.
Those schools were replaced by a new Year 7 to 13 school.
The council's plan to purchase Kawerau Intermediate was fraught because it wasn't able to secure a long-term tenant.
Mayor Malcolm Campbell says without that type of tenant the buy-up would have come at a high price to ratepayers, which was something it couldn't do.
Mr Campbell now worries the school will be damaged once Ministry of Education security around the site is taken away.
He's concerned no-one will want to purchase the school and it will face the same fate as the closed Kawerau central school, which the council was forced to demolish after it was damaged, posing a safety risk to the community.
Under legislation, the ministry will now put the school into a landbank for the Crown to decide what will happen to the facility.