CAMDEN, Maine — Residents of Camden and Rockport will vote in either late January or early February whether to approve construction of a new middle school that has an estimated price tag of $24 million.

The board for School Administrative District 28 is scheduled to vote Oct. 15 to set the date for the referendum, Superintendent Elaine Nutter said Friday.

The district held two open houses this week to show off a model of the planned new building, which is designed to accommodate up to 400 students.

The new school is necessary because the existing one is in need of costly repairs, school officials have said. The middle school is a patchwork of buildings not designed to function as one school, the district has maintained. Nutter said the cost of renovating those old buildings would be more than building a new school and would still not address the traffic flow and pedestrian safety issues of the current arrangement.

The current school is directly adjacent to Knowlton Street while the proposed new school would be set back more from the road.

Under the proposal, the existing original brick Mary E. Taylor School, built in 1925, would be renovated for administrative offices and for adult and alternative education programs, the superintendent said. The remaining buildings would be torn down.

The existing middle school has 122,000 square feet of space. The proposed new school would have 84,000 square feet but would be designed to be more efficient for use as a school. The classroom section of the building would be three stories, though the superintendent said that because of the grade of the property, it would not look that tall from Knowlton Street.

After date is set for the referendum, Nutter said the district will come up with more specific cost estimates to have ready before the vote.

If the project is approved, the superintendent said there would be another year of planning, and public input sessions would be held before construction bids are sought and awarded.

The plan is for the school to open for students in September 2017.

The $24 million estimate is for the new school and does not include work to the Mary E. Taylor building or renovations to the adjacent bus garage, which is also used for administrative offices. The price for that work will be developed prior to the referendum, Nutter said.