At a budget workshop last week, the Howard County School Board thought it had found some extra money for special education in Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's proposed 1988-89 budget.

Darrell Drown, the school system's budget officer, immediately consulted his stack of three-ring binders, adding machines and Toshiba 3100 computer. A few minutes later, Drown announced that a miscalculation in the number of teachers involved in one program area would produce a small windfall.

The anticipated savings: $150.

To the chuckles and grimaces of board members, Chairman Anne L. Dodd, joked, "We'll be sure that all of the departments get a cut of the money."

That short exchange illustrates the problem the five-member board faces today when it is scheduled to approve an operating budget for the 1988-89 school year.

After three long nights of budget workshops, the School Board members found very little they wanted to cut but several items they wanted to add or increase in Hickey's $133.7 million proposed budget. In December, when Hickey released his budget proposal, he described it as a "hold-the-line" budget that included $500,000 in new programs, the smallest increase in the past four years.

The school board today also must adopt a proposed capital improvements budget for the 1988-89 that may be a bit rosier than earlier forecast.

Education officials said last week that the school system may ask the county for $600,000 less in funding because of changes in the state funding allocation formula for Bollman Bridge Elementary School, scheduled to open this fall.

According to revised budget request, school officials plan to ask for $15.6 million in county funding next year to build new schools and purchase portable classrooms to accommodate an anticipated 24 percent enrollment boom over the next five years.

The budget requests will be forwarded early next month to County Executive Elizabeth Bobo, who will review them for preparation of her budget request to the County Council.

With little excess money to play with, board members are expected to do some horse-trading today to increase funding in the operating budget for pet programs as well as shore up a budget some members consider too conservative.

Based on concerns voiced by the board members at the workshops, among the programs likely to be increased are the teen parenting and child-care program, school media centers, the staff development center, textbooks and supplies and special education.

How much the board may increase Hickey's budget proposal is uncertain. But the board members indicated that they would consider cutting the funding for the controversial parochial school busing program, along with proposed salary increases for top-level central school administration personnel.

And despite popular support for the return of a scaled-down, self-supporting driver's education program, the board is not expected to include the request in next year's operating budget because officials said it is too late to set up the program for this summer.

At a public hearing last month, the PTA Council of Howard County recommended that the board increase Hickey's budget by at least $500,000 to maintain existing class sizes and the quality of the current program offerings.

But last week, school officials said it would probably take more than $800,000 to implement the PTA Council's recommendations, which included more money for staff and curriculum development, school libraries, substitute teachers and for in-service training of teachers on child abuse and sexual assault.

Hickey said Tuesday that the board and county officials will find it difficult to trim his proposed budget without slashing major programs.

In past years, Hickey said, he has proposed about $2.5 million in new programs, leaving the board and local politicians some leeway for trade-offs in budget deliberations.

This year's "bare bones" budget, Hickey said, greatly reduces the board's options. "I really tried to make it as realistic as possible," Hickey said. "I wanted to make it hard to cut . . . or second-guess our budget proposal."

However, at each budget workshop, board members questioned whether school officials have underestimated the cost of supplies and materials in the proposed budget. "With inflation, the same amount of dollars cannot buy the same of goods and services next year," said board member William T. Manning.

Last year, the School Board added about $6 million to Hickey's proposed operating budget, increasing the total from $115.9 million to $122.4 million. However, the County Council slashed the board's request by $4.5 million, forcing school officials to cancel summer school and driver's education.

Hickey said Tuesday that the school system, bracing for an additional 1,000 new students next year, cannot absorb a similar budget cut this year without severe staff cutbacks and program losses.

----------------SCHOOL BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS-----------------

School administrators estimate it would cost an additional $7.3 million to implement 1989 budget recommendations proposed by parents, teachers and other residents at a Jan. 21 public hearing. The anticipated costs of some of the most requested items are:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

RECOMMENDATION.............................................. COST

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Add seventh period to middle and high school days......$2,800,000

Increase funding for Black Student Achievement Program....600,000

Increase funding for supplies and materials...............578,000

Hire 13 part-time elementary school counselors........... 500,500

Add eight high school guidance counselors................ 308,000

Add 10 middle school teachers for gifted and talented............

program.................................................. 279,000

Upgrade mathematics textbooks............................ 200,000

Add seven English teachers............................... 195,300

Increase funding, teachers for Cedar Lane special education......

program...................................................117,500

Reinstate drivers education program....................... 51,608

Bolster staff development program..........................45,000

Upgrade school media centers...............................21,200

Train 100 teachers on AIDS and child abuse................. 8,200