Grapeland ISD Names Lone Finalist for Superintendent

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND –  The Grapeland Independent School District (GISD) named the lone finalist for the position of superintendent after several candidates were considered and interviewed to replace retiring GISD Superintendent Don Jackson. 

The GISD school board voted 7-0 to name Dr. David Maass as the lone finalist for superintendent with a state-mandated 21 day waiting period before GISD can vote to extend an official offer. Maass was one of the candidates interviewed by the board at a special meeting called for that purpose and held at Grapeland State Bank. 

The meeting began at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 with all board members present including an attorney from the firm hired by GISD to help them recruit and filter interested candidates. The meeting went into executive session where each of the three candidates were given about an hour to present themselves, their resumes and their vision for Grapeland schools. 

Before the meeting, The Messenger was able to speak with GISD Board President Brad Spisak who said the board had official criteria but was also looking for a candidate who would fit in with the schools and the community. 

Members of the Grapeland ISD School Board review resumes and debate who would get the job of new superintendent. 

“We wanted a licensed, qualified candidate,” Spisak said. “We were looking for somebody with experience, with education and with a knowledge of both curriculum and our culture in the surrounding areas.”

The Monday night meeting was the second round of interviews as the district tried to find the most qualified candidate to fill the job. The board spoke with the candidates, debated and finally reopened the meeting to the public a little after 8:30 p.m. where Dr. Maass was elected unanimously. 

Maass has been the superintendent of Oglesby School District near Waco since 2017 while his work in education goes back to 2003. He received his Master’s Degree in Education Administration in 2006 and his doctorate degree in Curriculum Instruction and Higher Education in 2018, both from Texas A&M Commerce. 

Maass, originally from Nebraska, was able to come to Grapeland with his wife to see the area and talk and pray about the potential big decision to apply for the superintendent’s job and possibly move here. Maass said they already fell in love with the community. 

“My wife has always loved East Texas. Her mom lives in Sulphur Springs and my wife likes the trees and the green and here we’re kind of dry and brown,” Maass said. “We came up and drove around the area maybe six hours and even got lost on some of back roads a couple of times.”

Dr. Maass notes in his resume submitted to the GISD board his accomplishments in his current position including receiving first ratings every year he has been with the Ogelsby district. He also touted his ability to increase enrollment, maintain low absenteeism even after COVID and funding and renovation projects. 

Maass was attracted to this position in Grapeland hoping he could maintain the small town lifestyle but some of the perks and opportunities of a bigger district. 

“I wanted a larger school that could provide more opportunities for students. Currently I am in a small school,” Maass said. “We don’t have band and other things. When my kids were growing up, they participated in those and enjoyed them. Mainly it was looking for a bigger school with more to offer students and myself as well.”

Maass noted the process had been quick but professional. He and his wife traveled together to Grapeland for the interview Monday night. 

“It was like a whirlwind, from the first to the second interview. It was really fast and definitely exciting. They called after they had finished the meeting Monday night,” Maass explained. “We were going through Mexia. I was pretty happy, though. We had to pull over the side of the road because I didn’t want to get in an accident for being too excited.”

Current GISD Superintendent Jackson is set to leave the district sometime in March. Maass will be in Grapeland this week visiting the school and getting to know the layout and the community at large.

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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