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.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

The future of Arkansas’s lieutenant governor’s office is unclear. After Mark Darr resigned the post amid charges of ethics violations earlier this year some called to abolish the office altogether.

Despite talk of its demise, three men are running to fill the seat. U.S. Congressman Tim Griffin, a former federal prosecutor and republican national committee staffer, is the Republican candidate. 

Gloria Smith Canvasses To Get Out The Vote
PBS NewsHour

Arkansas' highest court says the November ballot can include a proposal to gradually increase the state's minimum wage.

The Arkansas Supreme Court's ruling on Monday rejects a challenge by a Little Rock businessman who wanted to block a ballot question that asks voters to raise the state's minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 gradually by 2017.

Arkansas is one of the few states with a minimum wage below the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

Democrats had pushed for the issue to be on the ballot.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced a school safety initiative as part of the state’s Special Investigations Division at a press conference Tuesday.

McDaniel said the program is to increase preparation for school shooting incidents around the state. He says teachers, law enforcement officers and first responders need to know what steps to take in a school emergency.

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Community Corrections presented a proposal for transitional  centers for ex-offenders to a legislative joint committee Monday. The plan would provide 800 transitional beds statewide over two years at a total cost of nearly $9 million. 

Sheila Sharp of the Community Corrections said that could help ease prison crowding as it looks to release inmates and avoid recidivism.

Authors of a study on the importance of 3rd grade literacy presented their findings to legislators today. They say, according to state benchmark exams, 77 percent of the state’s third graders read at grade level and that’s a pivotal measure of their future success.

The legislative interim study, complied by the Winthrop Rockefeller foundation and Arkansas Advocates for Children and families made several recommendations to the state legislature Monday.  Recommendations including high quality Pre-k and afterschool programs and improved school attendance.  

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear cases appealing same-sex marriage bans in five states. In May, the Arkansas State Supreme Court suspended a judge’s decision to void a 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. 

The state Supreme Court has not yet issued a ruling. Jay Barth is a political scientist at Hendrix College. He says some experts speculate state justices have been awaiting a decision on the matter from the nation’s highest court.

KUAR and KLRE were off the air for several hours Monday morning due to after an outage caused by an overnight storm. The stations were without power since 3:16 this morning until shortly before 7 a.m.

General Manager Ben Fry said the University of Arkansas Little Rock Facilities Management worked to get the stations' power back on the air. 

“There have been several power outages on campus. One of them [affected] the power that comes into the control rooms for KUAR and KLRE. It’s [turned] off the power for our vital systems,” he said.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Legislators heard from advocates and officials hoping to reform the state's judicial justice system on Wednesday. Panelists told lawmakers Arkansas is institutionalizing too many young people for minor offenses and the costs are high.

Madelyn Keith is with the Arkansas Youth Services Association. She wants more intervention to happen at the community level.

The Arkansas Community Organization has analyzed updated census data on rising poverty in the state. According to spokesman Neil Sealy, despite the end of the recession, the number of people nationally living below 200 percent of the poverty line went up by a third. In Arkansas, it went up by one half.

"It's even more dire in Arkansas, where in 2009, 18.8 percent of our population lived below the poverty line as opposed to in 2013, 19.9 percent," he said.

Republican Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge at KUAR during the 2014 May Primary run-off.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane has canceled the voter registration of Leslie Rutledge, Republican candidate for Attorney General.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the clerk determined Tuesday that Rutledge is not a registered voter in the state. Rutledge, a one-time aide to the former Governor Mike Huckabee, is a voter in Washington, D.C., and possibly in Virginia. 

Pages