New research from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments makes clear that rural towns in the western part of the state face far different challenges than those closer to Boston.
Researchers took a look at towns with fewer than 500 people per square mile -- that's about half the cities and towns in the state.
Linda Dunlavy is executive director of the Franklin Regional Council of Government. She said rural communities across the state face education challenges, but for different reasons.
"Out here we're struggling with how we deal with the fact that we are losing kids in our public schools and do we need to close schools?" said Dunlavy. "The eastern part of our rural counterparts, they are having explosions of population in their schools."
Dunlavy said one big problem is dozens of towns in western Mass don't have broadband, which means it's harder to attract businesses and families with children.