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.

Members of the Little Rock School District board running for election on September 16 responded to questions at a community forum at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center Thursday night.

Incumbent Norma Jean Johnson is running against Joy Springer in the downtown area. Johnson told the crowd she wants to foster a more positive dialogue about the district to encourage families to stay, while looking for ways to cut wasteful spending.

Dassault Falcon Jet
wikicommons.org

Dassalt Falcon Jet held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for a $60 million dollar expansion and improvement of its business jet competition facility near Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Andrew Ponzoni, communications manager at Dassault Falcon Jet said his company considered investing in other cities but decided on Little Rock because of the company's history in the city.

arkleg.state.ar.us

State legislators continue to look for a solution to the long beleaguered retirement program for public school employees.

A task force led by Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren heard remarks Tuesday from an array of education and benefits officials in a preliminary discussion about merging the school employee plan with a state employee plan. Hendren says after the meeting, he doesn’t expect the legislature to pursue merging the two.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross said today he wants to empower the state's veterans commission, push for tax exemptions for retired military members and increase funding for treatment courts for veterans.

Ross announced his plan for serving Arkansas veterans today. He said with a national average of 22 veteran suicides a day, the state's next governor can't be complacent in his attention to the needs of the nearly 260,000 veterans living in Arkansas.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

The Little Rock School District board held its annual retreat on Friday evening to brainstorm about raising funds for needed school improvements costing up to $500 million. The board also wants to make a plan for improving six schools the state has categorized as being in distress.

According to school board president, Greg Adams, the board has a lot to parse out at the start of this school year.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

State lawmakers are looking into problems with 911 systems across Arkansas. On Thursday, a legislative committee reviewed technological and staffing discrepancies between county systems.

State Senator Missy Irvin from Mountian View said some 911 call centers are run by police or fire departments. Others are run by volunteers that can’t consistently track the locations of incoming callers.

Hot temperatures have hit central Arkansas after a record cool July. Central and Eastern Arkansas have temperatures in the high 90's with heat indexes above 100 degrees.  According to Charles Dalton of the National Weather Service, these temperatures are not out of the ordinary for August.

“We’ve got really strong upper level high pressure building across the central gulf states including Arkansas. So, we’ve had an a-typical summertime weather pattern stretching back the past couple of weeks and it’s just kind of swapped to a more normal pattern,” said Dalton.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport announced a $20.5 million concourse renovation plan Tuesday. The proposal includes a modernized interior, additional gate seating with chargers for portable devices, new jet bridges and new arrival and departure monitors.

According to Ronald Mathieu, Executive Director of the Clinton National Airport, ridership was down five percent last year. He said interior improvements will be good for business.

Little Rock School Board officials are deliberating over whether to re-purpose some elementary schools for older kids after the results of a study from a private consultant recommended repairs and expansions costing up to $500 million.

Carl Baxmeyer of Fanning-Howey architecture and engineering firm of Indianapolis, says his company found some elementary schools might be put to better use.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Former President Bill Clinton addressed the Southern Governors’ Association’s annual meeting afternoon in downtown Little Rock Friday.

He spoke on the importance of internet access and educational technology in rural and underserved urban areas to achieve a more egalitarian south.

“Nobody in this room who has been alive at a time of fuller possibility than the the present moment,” he said to the group of lawmakers and industry representatives.

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