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.

Students
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Marvell-Elaine schools bus driver Larry Greer’s route twists through the Arkansas Delta, between the White and Mississippi Rivers. “All together I go from Elaine to Snow Lake, 65 miles round trip,” he said, while elementary school kids filed onto his bus for the afternoon ride home.

These are country bus stops along country roads. The way is long. In the morning, Greer says, he will wait only so long at an empty stop before he snaps his levered doors closed again. “If they don’t come out, they’re not going that day.”

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Funding cuts for mental health services through Medicaid are taking effect October 1, despite a last-ditch effort at the state legislature Friday to walk back a change that some say could have dire consequences.

The cuts, finalized last week, would limit group therapy length from an hour and a half to an hour and set a cap of 25 counseling visits per year for Medicaid recipients who might otherwise go every week.

The vote to revisit the decision failed to gain two thirds from the Arkansas Legislative Council Friday morning.

Sonography
Sarah Whites-Koditschek/ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

University of Arkansas Medical Sciences sonography student Debra Howell is a nontraditional 35-year-old whose father came from Belize. She has one more year to finish her bachelor’s degree. In addition to a 40-hour a week residency, Howell must find time to study — and care for her kids. She works 12-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays as an X-ray technician.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek/ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

Arkansas’s Legislature took a step toward its pledge to trim $835 million from the state’s Medicaid budget over five years today when it voted to limit group therapy for about 10,000 low-income Arkansans from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, 25 times a year.

The third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer is medical errors, a set of Johns Hopkins University researchers concluded in a paper published this spring in The BMJ. So how much should we be able to sue for our pain and suffering when doctors make mistakes, and should the state legislature get to decide?

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. 

Pages