Newport-Mesa’s 6,000-item warehouse is like a city within the school district

Something akin to a miniature city is functioning within the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s headquarters complex in Costa Mesa.

The area off Bear Street houses the district’s bus fleet, its own mechanic and a Costco-like warehouse stocked with 6,000 items including furniture, school supplies, and engineering and mechanical equipment.

Shawn Selph leads a team of 10 warehouse employees who every year deliver 1.3 million meals to schools from the adjacent food storage facility, process more than 182,000 pieces of mail and transfer more than 3,600 pieces of equipment.

“We have our fingers in every area of schools,” Selph said. “We’re efficient.”

The team members begin their shifts at 6:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. Some spend most of their workday driving trucks to deliver equipment and meals to the district’s 32 schools. Others work in the warehouse and manage stock and purchase orders.

Selph said they rotate jobs each month to keep things interesting.

Their main job may be delivering and retrieving items, but warehouse worker Wendell Ross said he strives to help the schools any way he can.

“I call that good customer service,” Ross said. “I think that’s an approach the whole team takes on.”

Before the warehouse, built in the 70s, about 250 items were stored in several buildings, according to Selph.

Now, he said, there are enough common supplies in the warehouse that workers can avoid running to a store if a school asks for a replacement door lock, for example.

Earlier this year the team visited Andersen Elementary School in Newport Beach to pick up desks and chairs from teacher Alexandria Gladstone-Lamas, who wanted her classroom to be more like a Google office, with alternative seating such as couches, bean bags and blankets.

It may not be a glamorous job, but those on the warehouse team say they enjoy their behind-the-scenes role.

“If we’re an afterthought, we’d say that’s a good thing,” Selph said. “We’re here to support [school sites], and we’re somebody they can count on without having to think about the warehouse.”

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