Charles Zogby , the state secretary of education and an avowed fan of Edison Schools Inc., is rumored to be joining a private education company when he leaves public office next month.

No, it's not an Edison job.

Zogby will work for K12 Inc., a for-profit company that operates "home-based public schools" on the Internet, several sources told the Daily News.

Zogby 's spokeswoman, Beth Williams, said yesterday that he was not ready to announce where he would work after Harrisburg.

"There will be an announcement coming toward the middle or end of December," Williams said. As of now, we really can't confirm or deny anything. "

Last week Zogby told the Associated Press that his next job might mean a move out of Pennsylvania. "I want to stay in education. If something comes along in Pennsylvania, that would be great. I'm not necessarily limiting myself to Pennsylvania," he said.

Virginia-based K12 was founded in 1999 by former U.S. Education Secretary William J. Bennett, and is a subsidiary of the Knowledge Universe Learning Group, a education conglomerate founded by former junk-bond financier Michael Milken.

K12 runs the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School, one of seven "cyber schools" in the state.

Based in Norristown, the school has 1,800 students in kindergarten through fifth grade from as far away as Erie.

Zogby , a strong proponent of alternatives to public schools, has backed cyber schools while working in the Ridge and Schweiker administrations.

Last year, Zogby withheld state education money from public- school districts that refused to pay tuition for students who transferred to cyber schools.

And Zogby lobbied the General Assembly this year to transfer oversight of cyber charters from local school districts to his department.

The changes Zogby pushed for were incorporated into a state education budget signed by Gov. Schweiker in June.

A K12 spokesman who was asked this week about Zogby 's rumored job promised to look into it but then did not return several messages.

Zogby also helped Edison land a $2.7 million contract to study the Philadelphia School District that eventually led to the company's managing 20 city schools.

And he helped place conditions on new state money in Schweiker's budget, and that helped Edison negotiate a contract providing $881 more per student in state money than what the other Philadelphia schools got.

And Zogby this month sent $2.5 million in state funds to Delaware County's Chester Upland School District, which was used to help boost Edison's pay there.

Critics have wondered if Zogby would take a job with Edison but, in an August interview with the Daily News, he said, "There's no possibility" of that happening."