Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Reporter / Anchor

Sarah Whites-Koditschek is a reporter and anchor for KUAR 89.1.

She was a production assistant and reporter for WHYY in Philadelphia. She also interned at NPR’s Morning Edition in Los Angeles.

Sarah is a graduate of Smith College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies. She was a student at the Stabile Center For Investigative Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

The federal government has told the state of Arkansas to give Medicaid beneficiaries more time to prove they are eligible for the program before terminating their coverage.

Federal Medicaid officials have requested the state extend a deadline for recipients to provide income verification from 10 days to 30.

Amy Webb, Spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requested the extended 30-day window Thursday night.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Local advocates for public schools held a protest in front of the Little Rock School District’s headquarters Thursday to a call for a return to local control and an end to charter schools in the state.

Anika Whitfield with the Coalition to Reclaim Our Schools in the Little Rock School District said she believes the state takeover of the district and the increasing presence of charter schools in the state will negatively impact minority students.

Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed University of Arkansas judicial ethics professor Howard Brill as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court Tuesday.

Brill has taught law for 40 years and served as a special justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court. He said his judicial philosophy is one of restraint and adherence to the law.

The top story this week: Gov. Asa Hutchinson lays out a seven-point plan to continue the state's participation in the Medicaid expansion through the private option, though officials also resume sending cancellation notices to those who didn't respond to verification request.

Cummins arkansas department of correction prison
Arkansas Department of Correction

The Arkansas Parole Board reviewed parole revocation rules Friday, looking for ways to stem prison overcrowding in the state. Earlier in the day, the legislature approved $10 million in additional funds to add 200 beds to a Pine Bluff Facility and send 48 more inmates to Bowie County, Texas.

Rep. John Walker
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess should keep authority over desegregation matters in the Jacksonville/North Pulaski County School District, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

State lawmakers began discussions Tuesday on student loan debt from higher education. Democratic Rep. Greg Leding of Fayetteville requested a legislative study on the issue. It is slated for completion by the summer of 2017.

According to Tony Williams of the Arkansas Student Loan Authority, students in the state accumulated roughly $675 million in debt in the 2013/2014 school year. 

“I think what’s driving that is the cost of higher education,” said Williams. He added that debt rates have climbed steadily over the past decade and will continue to grow. 

This week the KUAR News team discusses Arkansas’s plan to resume executions, a consent decree over the 2013 oil spill in Mayflower, new terms of negotiation for the teachers’ union in Little Rock, Arkansas’s rank as first in the nation for cutting the uninsured rate since the Affordable Care Act, a visit from 2016 GOP contender Ted Cruz, and a campaign to restore the home of Daisy Bates.

One more voice in education is advocating for Pre-K funds, afterschool programs, and stronger recruitment and training for Arkansas’s teachers.

ForwARd Arkansas gave a report to the State Board of Education Friday after months of hosting focus groups and conducting surveys around the state. The group has been tasked with developing a long term vision for closing achievement gaps and increasing graduation rates in Arkansas.

The teachers' union in the Little Rock School District plans to announce major changes in its contract with members at a meeting Tuesday evening. The Superintendent of the LRSD, Baker Kurrus, is proposing to change the contract with the union that has stood for 50 years.

The changes, backed by the state’s Department of Education, remove some bargaining rights but leave the union with negotiating power over salaries and benefits.