The Washington School for Secretaries, the 65-year-old secretarial training school, has been sold to a new company formed by New York investment banker Carmelo Montalbano for an undisclosed price.

Airco Educational Services, a division of the London-based BOC Group Inc., sold the school because it "no longer fit with the direction" that the company was taking, according to the school's new director, Gale R. Newman. Airco owns 23 computer-learning centers in the United States, including one in Springfield, he said.

Montalbano, who is a partner in the investment banking firm of Billon Reed and whose wife graduated from WSS in 1972, bought the school and two affiliated organizations: WSS Placement, an employment agency in Springfield, and WSS Temps, an agency for temporary employes. Calling the company a "hybrid organization," Newman said Montalbano plans to branch out further and open new offices for both affiliated groups in Tysons Corner.

In other changes planned by Newman, who had been admissions director before the sale, WSS will launch a two-pronged program to improve the quality and the marketability of its training. Traditionally, he said, the school has had a "serious dedication to a high-quality product," but "has gotten away from that."

In a program change that reflects widespread concern that secretarial school curriculums do not stress basic skills, Newman said, the school will increase its emphasis on improving typing and shorthand speed.

However, in order to "claim the competitive advantage" over other programs, he said, WSS also plans to stress "basic computer literacy," training students on IBM PCs and with a variety of widely used software. The trend for secretarial skills, he added, is away from word processors, which are becoming outdated.

Genex Corp., the Gaithersburg biotechnology firm that last year lost contracts that formed a major part of its business, has announced two genetic engineering research contracts and a supply agreement that are expected to provide about $650,000 in revenue.

The contracts, which continue the work of previous projects, are expected to be completed by June. One, which involves research on plasma protein, is being performed for Schering AG. The other, designed to facilitate the production of a therapeutic serum protein, is being done for Behringwerke AG.

Genex said the contracts could provide additional revenue from royalties if the products are sold in commercial markets.

Genex also signed an agreement to supply an enzyme-based drain opener to International Biochemicals Group for sale in Britain, Ireland and West Germany.

USAir Group Inc. has agreed to acquire Suburban Airlines Inc., a Reading, Pa.-based regional airline that had been operating under contract with USAir, for about $9.7 million in cash. The purchase is still subject to approval by Suburban shareholders, but is virtually assured, said Suburban President Arthur M. Horst, who added that he was in favor of the deal.

Suburban, which links several smaller airports, such as Allentown and Lancaster, Pa., with major hubs such as Boston, Newark and Washington's National, is one of seven airlines called the Allegheny Commuters that operate under contract with USAir.

No change in Suburban's operations are planned as a result of the acquisition, according to Horst. A USAir spokesman said the acquisition mirrors an earlier acquisition of Pennsylvania Airlines Inc. of Harrisburg, which also is a member of the Allegheny Commuters.