In its first round of interviewing semifinalists for schools superintendent, Ascension Parish School Board members on Wednesday used Skype to talk remotely with two top candidates who currently are superintendents elsewhere, one in Louisiana and the other in Massachusetts.

Jerome Puyau, superintendent with Vermilion Parish public schools, and Stacy Scott, superintendent with Framingham public schools in Massachusetts, were the first two of four semifinalists to be interviewed for the job left vacant when Patrice Pujol retired in February.

The other two candidates will be interviewed, also via Skype, on Thursday.

Puyau came up through the ranks in the Vermilion school district as a special education teacher, assistant principal and supervisor of facilities and maintenance before being named superintendent-elect in July 2012, then superintendent in January 2013.

Scott is a psychologist who went from training teachers, principals and superintendents to becoming a superintendent himself. He has served as superintendent with two school systems in the Boston area, having worked as superintendent since 2012 with the public schools in Framingham.

Each was asked how they would deal with decreasing state funding and increasing student enrollment in Ascension Parish.

“You need to very carefully analyze the budget, try to protect the classroom as much as possible and economize,” Scott said.

Budgeting was the answer for Puyau, as well.

“You don’t spend on an employee (position) because it’s always been there,” he said.

On Thursday, the two remaining semifinalists will be interviewed: A. Katrise Perera, national director for urban markets, McGraw-Hill Education, Iowa, at 4:30 p.m.; and Rita Hernandez, area assistant superintendent of the Brownsville, Texas Independent School District, at 6:30 p.m.

The interviews will be held at Central Middle School, 14101 Roddy Road in Gonzales, and are open to the public.

Two semifinalists withdrew from the running in recent days. Alonzo “Lonnie” Luce, former superintendent with the St. James Parish school system, has been named superintendent of Louisiana Connections Academy, a statewide virtual charter school based in Baton Rouge.

The other former candidate is Harrison Peters, school support officer with the Houston Independent School District.

The next step in the School Board’s superintendent search will be in-person interviews of the finalists in open sessions during the week of June 6-10.