Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Reporter, Arkansas Public Media

Sarah Whites-Koditschek is a Little Rock-based reporter for Arkansas Public Media covering education, healthcare, state politics, and criminal justice issues. Formerly she worked as a reporter and producer for WHYY in Philadelphia, and was an intern and editorial assistant for Morning Edition at National Public Radio in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

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.

She has won awards from the Associated Press in Arkansas as well the Public Radio News Directors Inc.

Contact Sarah at sarah@arkansaspublicmedia.org or 501-683-8655.

River Market District
inarkansas.com

New employees of the City of Little Rock may receive a financial incentive to reside within the municipality.

The city’s Board of Directors is considering a $5,000 dollar gift for employees who buy homes in town, or $2,500 to employees who rent in Little Rock. The board discussed possible residency incentive for city employees at its meeting Tuesday.

City spokesperson Jennifer Godwin says the proposal was inspired by a recent failed initiative to require police officers to live within city limits.

-Arkansans will see a rise in insurance rates this year. But it could have been worse? Meanwhile, thousands more enroll in the state’s private option.

-The Republican candidate for a state house seat in south Arkansas faces jail time. 

-A Sherwood court comes under pressure from the ACLU: A story of hot checks, court fines, and debtors’ prisons.

-Arkansas’s struggle with high rates of incarceration rates is nothing new, but a recent report may offer a guide for how the state deals with overcrowding. 

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

For the first time in over 20 years, Arkansas prisoners will have access to federal grants to go to college.

Shorter College in North Little Rock has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as part of a three year experiment to send inmates to school.

Shorter College says it will offer a two-year associate degree in business to 250 selected inmates as part of the program.   

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A federal lawsuit alleges twelve percent of the city of Sherwood is being funded through predatory practices of a bad checks court system.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas partnered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to file the case against the city and Pulaski County.  

Attorney Bettina Brownstein says the city imposes a ceaseless punishment of jail time and escalating fines for those who write bad checks and can’t cover the cost of an initial court fine.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson is traveling the state this week touting computer coding in schools. Last year over four thousand students took high school level computer science courses as part of a statewide initiative.

During a stop Monday at Bryant High School, Hutchinson tried to raise excitement among students, saying coding skills are needed in every field. Hutchinson formerly served as Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He talked about the 2013 terrorist attack in Boston. 

-How does the health of low income Arkansans compare to other states, two years after the passage of Medicaid expansion?

-It’s back-to-school time. An Arkansas lawmaker delivers a report on the education system in the US and other countries. The state GOP removes mention of Pre-K from its party platform. And a Special Ed task force prepares an upcoming report, after more than a year of work.

- Inaccuracies in the Secretary of State’s office list of flagged felons on the voter rolls provokes a public records dispute with the state Democratic Party.

Arkansans are healthier than they would have been without the Affordable Care Act, researchers say.  

A new study comparing health outcomes for low income residents of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas following the federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act has found states that expanded Medicaid saw the health benefits.

Early voters
Sarah-Koditschek / KUAR

The Democratic Party of Arkansas says the Secretary of State’s office has promised to turn over documents related to 7,730 voters it recommended county clerks remove from voting rolls.

Party legal counsel Chris Burks says Mark Martin’s office did not respond within the required three days to a Freedom of Information Act Request for information.

He says the documents could show why Martin's office requested outdated voter rolls from the state's Crime Information center and distributed them to county clerks.  

Lucinda Schreiber for NPR

Arkansas state Sen. Joyce Elliot (D-Little Rock) spoke before a national group of state legislators Tuesday on how to improve education in the United States.

The National Council of State Legislators conducted a study entitled, No Time to Lose: How to Build a World Class Education System State by State, which found that education in the U.S. lags behind at least 30 other countries worldwide. 

Speaking in Chicago, Elliot said policies in those countries are data driven and less subject to political whim.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek/KUAR

At Hot Springs National Park, rangers are fighting to protect an ecosystem besieged by invasive species, and recently, they turned to a biological weapon, a mercenary army whose absence of mercy is matched only by their competitiveness around food.

Mary Stafford started out a few years ago by keeping a herd of goats at her house in Vilonia. She says they make great pets. They have big personalities and puckish charm.

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